Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Jimmy Boegle

Monday, 12 November 2012 08:50

Introducing the Coachella Valley Independent

Ever since I was an intern at the Reno News & Review in the summer of 1996, I have been something of a newsweekly nerd.

Every time I’d visit a new city, I’d scour newsracks and bookstores for the local newsweekly. I love the mix of hard-hitting local news, compelling commentaries and unmatched arts-and-culture coverage.

Sometime in the mid 2000s, I visited the Coachella Valley for the first time, when my significant other and I came to visit a friend. I did my usual find-the-newsweekly thing … and I couldn’t find one. There was the Desert Post Weekly, a weak Gannett-owned faux-newsweekly in which the locally produced stories could be counted on one hand. There was The Desert Entertainer, which seemed to specialize in coverage of events that took place at the local casinos. And that was it.

Meanwhile, Garrett and I started to fall in love with the place—the culture, the mountains, the diversity, and so many other things.

I decided to look into starting a real newsweekly in the Coachella Valley. Over several years, I crunched numbers, did interviews and got bids; I put together a business plan; and in the spring of 2008, I presented the plan to Wick Communications, the company I have worked for since November 2001, and for which I have been the editor of the Tucson Weekly since January 2003.

My plan was to start a print weekly, the Coachella Valley Independent, with a staff of about seven folks—in other words, I wanted to hit the ground running. However, the budgeted first-year financial loss—in the neighborhood of a quarter-million bucks—was unappetizing to the Wick folks, and understandably, they said no, especially since the economy was at that point showing sides of weirdness. Several months later, we’d all begin to realize that weirdness was actually the first manifestations of the Great Recession.

In the years since, I have visited the Coachella Valley several times every year, falling in love with the area a little more each time. During every trip, I’d think of that business plan. And I’d pick up every publication I could find. Some publications—the Desert Star Weekly and then later, the Coachella Valley Weekly—came. Others—like the LGBT-focused The Bottom Line—went. While some of the valley’s publications had their positive moments (as well as not-so-positive ones), I learned some of them were selling editorial articles to advertisers—and not labeling those articles as advertorials. That, combined with the continuing mediocrity of the daily Desert Sun, was disheartening.

As it stands right now, if a Coachella Valley reader wants honest community news coverage, or an unbiased food review, or just good, compelling writing, where can they go?

Enter the Coachella Valley Independent.

I, along with my partner, Garrett, have decided it’s time to make the leap. I have given my notice at the Tucson Weekly, and in January, we’re moving to the Coachella Valley so I can dedicate myself to the Independent full-time. We’re winging it as we do this on our own; the plan is to spend a good chunk of the year building up the publication online, and if all goes well, in the fall, we’ll launch a print version.

Seeing as we’re building this from nothing, there will be growing pains. We started the website from scratch, and as of now, it’s probably about one-third built. (Call it our very, very beta version.) Most of the content currently on the site is nowhere as in-depth as the content will be when we’re here full-time. And we’re doing this on a budget that makes the word “shoestring” sound generous.

But we’re going to pull this off. We love good, honest, true, fun journalism, and the positive effect it can have on communities. As we say on the (very, very beta version’s) “about” page: “We believe in true, honest journalism: We want to afflict the comfortable, and comfort the afflicted. We want to be a mirror for the entire Coachella Valley. We want to inform, enlighten and entertain.

“We will never let advertisers determine what we cover, and how we cover things. In other words, we will always tell it how we see it. For example: Some other publications in this valley do puff-piece reviews or feature stories on advertisers to make said advertisers happy. We will never, ever do that. If we lose an advertiser due to an unflattering story, a negative review or something else, so be it.”

Welcome to the Coachella Valley Independent.

Saturday, 03 November 2012 19:07

Snapshot: Palm Springs Pride Festival

On Saturday (Nov. 3), a decent-sized crowd "braved" 90-degree temps at the Palm Springs Pride Festival.

Attendees browsed the booths for local businesses, nonprofits, political organizations and lubricant companies, while a variety of entertainers crooned from several stages.

Here are some pictures from the event (scroll down) , which also takes place on Sunday, Nov. 4. Enjoy!

Thursday, 01 November 2012 16:42

The Indy Endorsement: Shanghai Reds Fish Tacos

What: The fish tacos (Baja fried or grilled)

Where: Shanghai Reds, inside of Fisherman's Market and Grill, 235 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

How much: $3.95, or $2.95 during late-night happy hour (8 p.m. to close)

Contact info: 322-9293;

Why: Because of the tortilla. Trust us.

These tacos aren't exactly a secret around these parts--they're perennial honorees in the Desert Magazine Best of the Valley competition (not that you should necessarily value such honors all that much)--but we're surprised at how many valley residents don't know about the delights at Shanghai Reds, the bar/casual area tucked behind Fisherman's (which also has a location in La Quinta).

The taco's ingredients are not that unusual: The taco includes white fish, topped with pico de gallo, shredded cabbage, citrus and a tasty white sauce. What makes these fish tacos special is the wrapping--namely, the tortilla. It's a thick corn variety that spends a moment or three on the grill before meeting its contents, and that maize/char/yummy flavor ties the whole package together.

Somewhere along the line, far too many Americans settled for tortillas that are mere packaging--flavorless vessels to deliver flavor to one's mouth. Shanghai Reds reminds us that it's not supposed to be that way--and proves that a good tortilla can make oh so much difference.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012 21:58

Snapshot: Arenas Road Halloween Costume Contest

Here are some exclusive Coachella Valley Independent iPhone CrapCam images from the Arenas Road Halloween Costume Contest!

A crowd shot at the Arenas Road Halloween Costume Party.

The crowd watches as various winners are announced.

Check out those legs!

Check out those legs!

An orange wig. A funny hat. Why not?

An orange wig, and then headwear that looks like the bastard cousin of a Hot Dog on a Stick hat. Why not?

Not a bad Wednesday crowd in Palm Springs ... even if it is Halloween.

Non-costumed folk watch the costumed folk.

And finally, just in time for Star Wars: Episode 7 in 2015: A stormtrooper.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012 08:00

Annoyed by Telemarketers? Get Even!

(Editor's note: This was written by yours truly 14 years ago. [Gack, I feel old now.] We're posting it here, now, because in this age of annoying political phone calls, it still rings true, even if the reference to a CD club is just a touch outdated. Anyhoo, enjoy!)

Zzzzzzzzzz. I am very asleep. It is quite warm in this bed, and I am very, very asleep. I love sleeping in. Aaaahhhhh ...

"RIIIIIING!" says the phone. I jolt awake, and start cussing out the phone and the dweeb on the other end who dares to call me at this sort-of early weekend hour.

"RIIIIIING!" the phone insists. I decide to answer it, because I am awake now. Dammit.

"Hello?" I ask, wishing that visions of sugarplums (or whatever) were still dancing in my head.

"Hi! Mr. Blegle? My name is Mort, and I am calling to offer you eight FREE CDs if you join our music club."

"Um ... huh?" is my witty retort.

"Yes, that's right!" says Mort, who is trying really hard to sound enthusiastic, but is not quite pulling it off. "All you have to do is agree to buy three CDs at regular prices over the next year, and we'll send you eight free CDs of your choice NOW! What do you think, Mr. Blegle?"

"Bite me, Mort."

I hang up, and lay back in bed. I am awake now. Dammit, Mort.

I am too awake now to resume my peaceful slumber, and too disgruntled to yet start my day, so I just lay in bed and think of ways to get back at the Morts of the world ... those we call TELEMARKETERS.

I plot; I scheme. Over the next few days, I come up with some ways to get back a little at telemarketers. I thought I would share a few of these ideas; while they may not get rid of telemarketers, at least they'll make your dealings with telemarketers more enjoyable...

1. Come on to the telemarketer. I just think of the fun I could have had messing with Mort's head if I had thought of this earlier...

Me: Hello?

Mort: Hi! Mr. Blegle? My name is Mort, and I am calling to offer you eight FREE CDs if you join our music club.

Me (with a low, passionate voice): Ooh, Mort. What are you wearing?

Mort (clearly confused): Yes, that's ri ... WHAT?

Me: (in a low, soft tone): Oh, Mort, your voice is soooo sexy. I feel I should tell you I am not wearing any pants. Hmmmm ...

Mort: GAAACK! Click!

At least, this is how the come-on technique should work. That telemarketing company will probably never call you back again, unless it is run by blatant perverts. But be careful; there's always a chance that Mort, if a blatant pervert, will enjoy your advances. This could be a real problem if he lives locally, because he has your phone number.

This technique may also seem a bit weird and too close to home if, like me the other morning, you really aren't wearing pants.

2. Talk like those teachers in the Peanuts television specials. This technique of annoying telemarketers is sure to confuse the telemarketer, and there is a much smaller chance that it will arouse the telemarketer. That is, unless he or she is a blatantly blatant pervert ...

Mort: Hi! Mr. Blegle? My name is Mort, and I am calling to offer you eight FREE CDs if you join our music club.

Me: Waaa! Waaa waa? Waa wa wa wa waaaaa!:

Mort: Excuse me?

Me: Waaa wa wa wa waaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

Mort: Mr. Blegle, I am sorry we must have a bad connection. I'll try and call back.

Me: Waaaaa. No pants! Waaaa.

3. Act like you and a close personal friend are ... well, you know. But once again, you must be concerned about the pervert factor....

Mort: Hi! Mr. Blegle? My name is Mort, and I am calling to offer you eight FREE CDs if you join our music club.

Me: Oh GOD! Oh, yes yes yes yes yes YES!

Mort: Gosh, Mr Blegle, that sure is a enthusiastic response!

Me (Gasping for air): Oh, please, yes. Yes! Harder!

Mort: Well, Mr Blegle! I will get your first CD out to you right ... harder?

Me: Oh, BABY! Yes! Harder! Harder!

Mort: WHAT???? Are you OK, Mr. Blegle?

Me: YES!!!!

4. Try and sell the telemarketer something yourself. This is sure to confuse him or her (and it's especially fun if you try to sell something that's actually free).

Mort: Hi! Mr. Blegle? My name is Mort, and I am calling to offer you eight FREE CDs if you join our music club.

Me: Wow! That's spiffy. Mort, can I call you Morty?

Mort: Why ... um, I guess.

Me: Let me tell you, Morty... right now, you can subscribe to the Coachella Valley Independent online for only $18 for three months! Ain't that a deal?

Mort: What? The Cockroach Velveeta who? No... I am trying to sell memberships to the CD club, and --

Me: But, Morty, buddy ... that's a quarter of a year for a mere 18 smackers? Come on, my friend.

Mort: I have to go. I am not wearing any pants! Click.

Now, these are just a few suggestions on how to mess with telemarketers. You, too, can come up with other ideas on how to deal with them, such as calling them to repentance (ADMIT you're a sinner, Mort) or pretending to speak only Pig Latin (Ite-bay e-may, Mort!).

Just whatever you do... have fun. Even if it's early, and you are blatantly without pants.

Unless you’ve been living under rock (and if you’ve been living under a rock, well, you’re probably not reading this brand-new local-news website), you know that Proposition 37 is Big News, both here in the Coachella Valley and around the country.

In summary: Prop 37, on the Nov. 6 ballot, would require that any food using genetically engineered ingredients be labeled as such (save meats, dairy products and booze). Proponents say that consumers have a right to know what they’re putting in their bodies; opponents say that such labels are unnecessary and would cause unneeded concern, since many scientists say genetically engineered foods are perfectly safe.

We at the Independent believe that more information is always better, so we think Prop 37 has more pluses and minuses. But there are minuses.

For your enlightenment and/or entertainment (and/or horrification), are some links to some links to Prop 37 stories, from news sources around the country, that cover those pluses and minuses.

This is a helpful Q&A if you’re just confused as heck, and you want the basics.

This piece points out that the American Association for the Advancement of Science—the folks behind Science magazine—thinks that labeling would "mislead and falsely alarm consumers."

This interesting, but flawed (see the intro editor’s note and the comments) points out how some science is hinting that there could be dangers lurking in genetically engineered eats.

Populist Jim Hightower, who’s a big fan of Prop 37, points out how some organic-food companies—who like Prop 37—have been exposing the fact that they’ve been bought out big food companies—who are decidedly against Prop 37.

This is a nice, recent primer on how much dough is being spent on the campaign, and by whom.

This article, despite some serious hyperbole, discusses some of the legal issues regarding the proposition.

So, there you go … a little light reading on an important topic.

Saturday, 27 October 2012 11:06

Easy Ways to Follow the (Political) Money

One of the biggest factors in today's political process is money.

No ... that's not right. Let me try again: By far, the biggest factor in today's political process is money.

The candidates who have it have a shot; the candidates that don't (including, I hate to say it, the vast majority of third-party candidates, good or bad), don't.

For a voter to be truly informed, he or she should look at where the candidates are getting their dough.

First, a caveat: The Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court decision has made it more difficult than ever to truly follow the money. In today's political world, some so-called PACs and business leagues and whatnot do not have to disclose their contributors, and those PACs/leagues can turn around and support or oppose any candidate or issue. The only "rule" is that the PACs can't "coordinate" with candidates' campaigns. Yeah, whatever.

Still, it's important for an informed voter to know who's funding the campaigns for the candidates. Here are several fantastic websites to help people do just that:

  • This site is a gold mine of info of candidates for federal office, and it's easy to use. You can search for campaign-contribution info on any candidate. Under the "Politicians and Elections" section, you can click "Get Local," input your zip code, and get a wealth of data--on both who's giving, and who's receiving. Input Indio's 92203, for example, and you can see that through Oct. 21, $45,601 had been donated from the zip code. Further link-clicking can get you more info. For example: Did you know that CKE Restaurants--the folks who own Carl's Jr.--are the biggest contributor to Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack's campaign, to the tune of $16k? And who's the biggest donator to her Democratic opponent, Raul Ruiz? Why, it's Emergency Medical Physicians ($20,250).
  • On a state level, this is a fine source ... that is, it's a fine source if/when the site is updated. Right now, the site only includes contributions through May 19, and it does not reflect the redistricting that was completed this year. Still, there's some interesting data to be had. We can learn, for example, that Republican State Sen. Bill Emmerson's top contributing interest group is public sector unions; they've given him more than $70,000. On the not-so-good side, tobacco companies have donated $21,475. Eek.
  • The Federal Election Commission. For federal races, sometimes, it's best to go straight to the source. The site's clunky, but it's updated quickly, and that's a good thing.

There are a variety of other sources out there, too, but these three offer a great start.


Thursday, 25 October 2012 19:46

Youngun's: The Future of Journalism

I spent a good chunk of last Friday at the University of Arizona School of Journalism's fall-semester internship fair.

I originally signed up for eight 20-minute interview slots on behalf of the paper I currently edit, the Tucson Weekly. However, Lisa Button, the school's fabulous internship coordinator, emailed me a couple of weeks before the fair to let me know that all eight of those slots were full, and that the waitlist was getting rather long.

I agreed to add four more slots. With the addition of two walk-ins, I wound up doing brief interviews with 14 students over about four hours.

Some observations:

• The future of journalism is bright, at least as far as the newbies are concerned. This was an impressive, talented, motivated group.

• The future of journalism is female. Over the years, an increasing female skew has hit the UA Journalism School, as well as other j-schools around the country. Of the 14 kids I talked to, 12 are female. All four of our current interns are women, too.

• The future of journalism is multi-talented. Journalists these days can't just focus on writing or taking pictures. They have to be able to do both. And do video. And be Internet-savvy. And be proficient in other media, too.

• I have no idea where all of these kids are going to get jobs. A third of all newspaper jobs vanished between 2000 and 2010, and even more have gone away since 2010.

However, I am honored that so many young, talented students are interested in alternative newsweeklies. That's a sign that the future for this industry has some bright spots after all.

Page 54 of 54