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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Jimmy Boegle

Steven Fales has been doing his one-man show Confessions of a Mormon Boy for a long time—for 18 years, to be exact.

After a 2001 Salt Lake City premiere and 10-week developmental run in Miami in 2003, Mormon Boy was a hit at the 2004 New York International Fringe Festival, and enjoyed a four-month Off-Broadway run in 2006. Since then, it’s been performed all around the world—including South Africa this past summer.

However, Fales and Confessions of a Mormon Boy have now created a home, of sorts, right here in Palm Springs: Fales will be performing the show every Tuesday night at The Club at Hotel Zoso through the end of January. After a month or so of previews, the official opening night will take place Tuesday, Oct. 22.

This is the third Coachella Valley stint this year alone for Confessions of a Mormon Boy, following performances at the Desert Rose Playhouse and Oscar’s. I spoke to Fales during the show’s month-long stint at Oscar’s.

“The desert is becoming home,” Fales told me in May.

Fales invited me to check out a recent preview performance. The autobiographical show, using original direction by Tony Award winner Jack Hofsiss, chronicles Fales’ life journey as a sixth-generation member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—who realizes early on that he’s gay. The show starts with a recording of Fales blaring out a song he made up as a child.

“I just made up songs like this,” Fales tells the audience. “Mormons record everything.”

Over the next 90 minutes, Fales takes us along with him on that journey—including a mission to Portugal and college at Brigham Young University, during which he joined the Young Ambassadors, a BYU song-and-dance group. It was as a Young Ambassador he had his first gay experience—something Fales promptly confessed to his bishop.

The church encourages Fales to undergo reparative therapy—which, of course, only makes matters worse. Despite the fact that he’s attracted to men, Fales is encouraged to date women, and he eventually falls in love with a woman who just so happens to be the daughter of Carol Lynn Pearson, the author of Goodbye, I Love You—an autobiography about her marriage to a gay man who eventually dies of AIDS. Even though Fales is honest with his girlfriend, Emily, about his same-sex attraction, they get married and have two children.

“We were going to write a different story,” Fales tells the audience.

Despite Fales’ best efforts to battle his homosexuality—including therapy costing $135 for a 45-minute session—Fales and Emily grow progressively unhappy. When Fales eventually confesses a series of sexual affairs to his wife, their marriage is over. So, too, is Fales’ life as a member of the church. For me—myself a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—the most moving part of the play comes when Fales recounts his experience in church court, which results in his excommunication.

After this, the play’s tone changes considerably, becoming more frantic and more graphic (including Fales stripping down to his skivvies and simulated sex)—which, appropriately, mirrors what happens in Fales life: He moves to New York City, ostensibly to pursue his acting career. What actually follows is work as an escort, drug use and, as Fales puts it, six months of “my own personal Moulin Rouge.”

There is no suspense, really, in Confessions of a Mormon Boy—we know Fales makes it through, because he’s standing right in front of us, 18 years after the concluding moments in the play, which Fales has tweaked and refined over the years (including the addition of a reveal toward the end of the play I won’t give away here). However, Fales makes up for that lack of suspense by keeping the audience engaged through every minute of the show’s run time: There’s not a lull or a dull moment. There are funny moments, moving moments and appropriately awkward moments (as well as a handful of moments that could be refined or excised, such as more than one brag by Fales about his endowment size). But there is never a dull one.

Steven Fales has been invited to perform Confessions of a Mormon Boy all over the country and the world for almost two decades for good reason: It’s a great show by a talented performer.

Confessions of a Mormon Boy will be performed at 7:30 p.m., every Tuesday, through Jan. 28, at The Club at Hotel Zozo, 150 S. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $24.95 to $99.95. The Tuesday, Oct. 15, show is a preview with discounted tickets; opening night is Tuesday, Oct. 22, and includes a special performance at 7 p.m. by Jill Kimmel. For tickets or more information, visit mormonboyexperience.com.

David Graves is really passionate about horror films—so passionate, in fact, that he has convinced the Camelot Theatres at the Palm Springs Cultural Center to present horror-film double-features most Friday nights through the end of the year.

The Art of Darkness series debuts this Friday, Oct. 11, with The Innocents at 6 p.m., and A Tale of Two Sisters at 8 p.m. I had to ask Graves: Why so passionate about horror?

“Well, I’m basically a very fearful person,” he said with a laugh. “My passion for horror films started very early, and it may be because that’s just a familiar space for me, but I find that (horror) sharpens all of your senses. … You know, fear is the oldest, deepest emotion that we have; it’s a lizard-brain thing. It was part of our survival. Watching horror movies is sort of the modern equivalent of cavemen setting around a fire telling each other spooky stories. … It’s a safe way to experience fear and (learn to) understand what you fear.”

Graves spent much of his career in film production—he was the assistant costume designer on a little film you may have heard of called Titanic—and considers himself a “huge movie buff.” He said he’s dreamed of doing a horror-film series for years, and it came to fruition after he discussed it with Rick Seeley, a longtime friend.

It turns out Seeley is the president of the board of the Palm Springs Cultural Center. Seeley loved the idea, as did Michael Green, the center’s executive director. Thus, Art of Darkness was born.

“I feel like this is an element that’s missing in the cultural life here,” Graves said. “There are horror-film festivals everywhere all over the country and all over the world; on any given week, and you’ll find one somewhere. It was something that I wanted to bring to the community—and to deepen people’s understanding of what horror is.”

Graves pointed out that horror isn’t just a genre—it’s an emotion. He said the Art of Darkness series goes beyond slasher films and explores horror at a deeper level.

“Many films that aren’t, strictly speaking, horror films still have horrific elements and have various different moods on that spectrum,” he said. “The critical sphere has been taking horror films much more seriously over the last 20 years. This is great, but I want to bring some of this to the local audience and say, ‘Look deeper at these things. Look at the substance and what they are about instead of looking at the surface, and let go of the idea that a horror film equals a slasher film’—because it doesn’t.”

Series-opener The Innocents, with a screenplay by William Archibald and Truman Capote, came out in 1961 and is described thusly on IMDb: “A young governess for two children becomes convinced that the house and grounds are haunted.”

“It’s really visually stunning, but it’s also very creepy and unsettling—and ultimately, it’s ambiguous,” Graves said. “It’s first movie that really, truly scared me. I was about 10 or 11 years old. My parents put it on, and everyone—my sister and my parents—fell asleep. I was watching the whole thing sort of by myself, and it really, really, unsettled me. And I loved it.”

While tickets to individual films in the series are $10, attendees who want to see both portions of the double-feature get in for $15. I asked Graves why he decided to present the Art of Darkness series via double-features.

“It’s a more interesting way to present these films thematically,” he said. “The whole idea was to present films that, on the surface, aren’t necessarily related, but that resonate with each other. … A Tale of Two Sisters, the second film on (the first) double-feature, is a stunning, hauntingly beautiful, really creepy Korean ghost story from the early ’00s. Both it and The Innocents are ambiguous, because they’re ghost stories—but is the ghost real, or is it the person imagining it or projecting it?

“(On Nov. 1), we’re showing remakes of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Thing, which are interesting, because the original films from the ’50s were both products of post-war, Cold War paranoia. The fact that they were remade in the late ’70s and early ’80s … (gives them) different context in a different thematic background. One of the great things about horror films is that they really are a mirror of the time that they were born in.”

Graves said he hopes the Art of Darkness series becomes a regular fall occurrence at the Cultural Center.

“I’ve got at least three years’ worth of these pairings that I’ve plotted out,” he said. “I’ve been ruminating about this for years, and it was just a question of choosing what we wanted to launch it with.”

The Art of Darkness series takes place most Fridays through the end of December at the Camelot Theatres at the Palm Springs Cultural Center, 2300 E. Baristo Road, in Palm Springs. Tickets to the individual films, at 6 and 8 p.m., are $10; admission to both films costs $15. For tickets or more information, call 760-325-6565, or visit psculturalcenter.org.

What: The creamy coconut cake

Where: John Henry’s Café, 1785 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way

How much: $8.50

Contact: 760-327-7667; johnhenryscafe.com

Why: The ice cream pushes it over the top.

The website for John Henry’s Café calls the restaurant “the best kept secret in the desert”—and even though the place has been around for more than 30 years, and is consistently busy, there paradoxically may be some truth to that statement: I drive by John Henry’s no less than several times per week, but for some reason, it’s one of those places that doesn’t come to mind regularly when I am considering a nice night out.

On my part, this is a shame: John Henry’s is a fantastic place for good food, top service, great cocktails and an old-school Palm Springs vibe.

On a recent visit, we couldn’t get a seat on the lovely patio, so we sat inside. My chop-chop salad ($7.95) and veal scaloppini, marsala-style ($23.95), were both delicious. However, none of those dishes wound up being the highlight of the night—and in fact, we almost didn’t order what became that highlight.

Toward the end of the meal, someone mentioned how amazing the creamy coconut cake was, and we debated whether to order a piece for the table to split. Most of my companions decided against it, but my friend Brad and I were curious, so we decided—after originally telling our server we weren’t having dessert—to get a piece and have a couple of bites; I’d then take the rest to go.

The cake was perfect—soft, perfectly sweet (but not too sweet) and delicious. However, the coconut-pineapple ice cream was what made the dish truly special: It was one of the tastiest ice creams I’ve ever had. I was pretty stuffed after the salad and the veal, but the ice cream was so fantastic that I didn’t want to stop devouring it.

This cake helps show why John Henry’s is consistently busy—even if the restaurant does, in some ways, remain a “secret.”

Now Open at Palm Springs’ Kaptur Plaza: V Wine Lounge

Before we get to all the sad news … let’s celebrate a little bit of good news with a glass of wine!

V Wine Lounge has finally opened its doors in Kaptur Plaza, at 600 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, in downtown Palm Springs.

Mikey Consbruck, the owner of V Wine Room in West Hollywood, and James Mortensen are the masterminds behind V Wine Lounge. On offer are 80 wines by the glass from California and the old world; a nice variety of craft beers; and even cheese plates, if you’re feeling a bit peckish.

Even though Independent World Headquarters is located just a short jaunt from V Wine Lounge, we haven’t yet had a chance to stop in for a drink or three. We’ll do so soon—so watch this space.

For more information, call 760-668-9665, or visit www.vwinelounge.com.


Three Much-Loved Local Restaurants Shut Their Doors

And now for the sad news: Three well-liked local restaurants in recent weeks have announced that they’re shutting down:

Justin Eat & Drink, which had become a favorite of foodies at 68784 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Cathedral City, announced via social media on Sept. 18 that it would not be reopening for the season. The soon-to-start construction on the Agua Caliente casino in Cathedral City was cited as the reason. “Keep your eyes open and stay tuned. You never know where you might see us next!” said the Facebook post.

Maria José Peruvian Restaurant, located in The Atrium at 69930 Highway 111, in Rancho Mirage, will also not reopen after a summer vacation. In an upbeat message posted on Facebook on Sept. 14, the owner said the time had come for her to “pursue other endeavors and devote more time to myself.” However, it’s no secret that the space Maria José occupied inside the sleepy Atrium mall was a tough sell—made even tougher since CVRep moved out of the mall earlier this year.

Frankinbun, which had delighted fans of all things sausage for five years at 540 S. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, announced on Facebook on Aug. 23: “So landlord decided not to renew our lease. ... The good news is we will be moving to the virtual world launching in 2020. All our vegan sausages and chutneys will be available. Stay tuned and thanks for all your support and love!” Watch www.frankinbun.com for updates.


In Brief

More sad news to report: The Coachella Valley restaurant world has lost two icons in recent weeks. Johnny Costagliola, the founder of legendary Palm Springs Italian restaurant Johnny Costa’s Ristorante, passed away on Sept. 4. He was 87 years old. His namesake restaurant remains open in the capable hands of his family. … Bill Tracy, the owner of the two Bill’s Pizza locations, passed away in early September. He fell off the roof of the Palm Desert restaurant in July, and then faced a series of complications. He was 69 years old. … Now open in Cathedral City: Bake’d Cakes and Pan Dulce, at 27800 Landau Blvd., No. 102. The bakery’s croissants, desserts and other goods are already earning raves on social media; call 760-656-0176, or visit www.facebook.com/Baked27800 to learn more. … Now open in Rancho Mirage: K-Tofu House, at 72817 Dinah Shore Drive, in the space that was briefly Sushi Arigato. If you’re not a fan of bean curd, don’t worry: K-Tofu House offers all sorts of Korean favorites with meat and veggies—bulgogi, bibimbap and a whole lot more. Call 760-656-8886 for more details. … Our friends at the Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with the city of Indio, are again showing off the eats from great east valley restaurants at the Taste of Indio event. It’ll take place from 4 to 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 24, at Jackalope Ranch, 80400 Highway 111, in Indio. Tickets are $20 and include tastes from the dozen-plus participating restaurants. For tickets or more information, call 760-347-0676, or visit gcvcc.org/event/taste-of-indio-2. … Like meatballs? Then get thee to the seventh annual Sammy’s International Meatball Festival, taking place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 6, at the Boys and Girls Club of Cathedral City, located at 32141 Whispering Palms Trail, in Cathedral City. The event is a fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club. The $15 ticket includes meatball tastings, entertainment and access to a beer and wine garden. Kids get in (albeit not to the beer and wine garden part) for $5. Props to Sam Pace of Sammy’s Place for hosting the event! For tickets or more info, call 760-770-4965, or visit bgcccity.org.

October is a big month for the Coachella Valley Independent.

Late in the month, we’ll mark the Independent’s seventh birthday. We posted our first bit of content at CVIndependent.com on Oct. 25, 2012, which means that on Oct. 25, 2019, we’ll start our eighth year of publication.

This is also the month in which we mark the anniversary of the monthly print edition: After quarterlies in April and July of 2013, we started our monthly print-publication schedule in October 2013. Our October 2019 issue is our 75th print edition!

While these milestones are certainly worth celebrating … frankly, we’re too busy to party. (However, if you want to give us a present to thank us for all of this great content … that’d be swell. Just click on the tip-jar icon. Thank you!)

For one thing … we’re busy because it’s Best of Coachella Valley voting season. Thanks to all of you who cast your ballots during the nomination round! On Monday, Sept. 30, we’ll announce this year’s slate of finalists in the 130 or so categories, and start the second and final round of voting.

Voting will take place through Monday, Oct. 28. You can only vote once—yeah, we’re different from other publications in that way; we prefer having a true and honest slate of finalists and winners over racking up the extra page views we’d get if we allowed ballot-box-stuffing. We’ll announce the winners at CVIndependent.com on Monday, Nov. 25, and in our December print edition. Congrats to all the finalists, and thanks in advance to all of you who will vote!

For another thing … we’re busy adding writers and content. Astute readers have noticed some new bylines in recent months—and we’re still adding more.

Do you think you have what it takes to be an Independent contributor? If so, drop me a line. We’re particularly looking for people to write about music, the visual arts, marijuana and the outdoors/hiking, plus we’re always looking for people who can write compelling, local features.

Oh, yeah, one more thing: Unlike some other, skeezier publications, we pay our writers. Yes, we pay real money! If you’re interested, drop me a line.

As always, thanks for reading the Coachella Valley Independent. Don’t hesitate to contact me with questions, comments or suggestions—and be sure to pick up the October 2019 print edition, hitting newsstands this week.

Cathy Schenkelberg is coming to the valley to perform her renowned one-woman show, Squeeze My Cans: Surviving Scientology, for one reason: Scott Smith.

“He’s been my friend since (we both lived in) Chicago,” Schenkelberg said during a recent phone interview. “We did Hair together, the Midwest tour. He was Berger, and I was Crissy. Scott is gay, and he knew that I loved him. I was like, ‘Oh, why are you gay? I want you to be my lover.’ We made a pact that if either of us reached a certain age, and neither of us had kids, we would have a child together. I remember when I got pregnant with my daughter, I said, ‘Well, too late. I’m pregnant.’”

Scott Smith, a beloved local performer who was on the board of Dezart Performs, died suddenly last year, after suffering a heart attack. He was 61 years old.

“I was literally getting on a plane to Ireland; it was March 1, 2018,” Schenkelberg said. “I got a call from Michael (Shaw, Dezart Performs’ artistic director). That loss was so great to me, because I had never lost anybody close to me, aside from family members. When I flew back from Ireland to be at his service, I said to Michael Shaw, ‘If you get together some kind of scholarship fund, I will make sure that I come and perform for you.’”

Schenkelberg will perform Squeeze My Cans on Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 7 and 8, at the Desert Rose Playhouse. The proceeds will go to Dezart Performs and the Scott Smith Scholarship Fund.

The show tells the true story of how, in Schenkelberg’s words, a girl from a large Catholic family in Nebraska wound up having her life nearly destroyed by spending 14 years as a Scientologist. Oh, yeah, it also discusses that one time she auditioned to be Tom Cruise’s girlfriend.

“It’s a roller coaster ride,” Schenkelberg said. “I take you down the rabbit hole of Scientology, but I also do it with humor, because how else is there to get past this loss of almost two decades and a million dollars, than being able to laugh at yourself? It was like being in a job for 18 years that you hated, or being in an abusive relationship, and going, ‘How do I get out of this thing?’ I find humor in loss.”

It all started when Schenkelberg met a Scientologist while she was in her early 20s.

“I was a successful actress in Chicago,” she said. “I did a lot of voice-over work, and I was the first female clown at The Bozo Show. I had a steady income, but I felt like I wasn’t contributing. So when I found Scientology, it was the right thing for me. Someone mentioned to me this morning: ‘You know, you wouldn’t have been in this for 18 years if there wasn’t something good about it.’”

At first, Schenkelberg said, Scientology made her feel special. “They love-bomb you,” she said. But as Schenkelberg’s career and income grew, the church took notice.

“On every step through the Scientology Bridge to Total Freedom, it’s called, I went to a higher level, and in this process, each level costs you more money, until (you reach) the point where you’re in ‘dianetic clear’—you’re clear of your reactive mind,” she said. “It’s an indoctrination, but it slow-burns. … I got to the point where I was afraid to lose (Scientology), because I thought I would die, or something bad would happen to me, or I would lose my friends, and my agent, and my doctor. All the people I was connected to, suddenly, were Scientologists. They isolate you in that way, but it was very slow. … If they’d have introduced the aliens early on, I probably would’ve been out of there in two seconds.”

Schenkelberg finally decided to make a break with Scientology for two reasons: She was running out of money, and the church started to come after her daughter.

“People who see the show will see, in 75 minutes, how someone can be indoctrinated,” she said. “Keep in mind (that when I started in Scientology in the 1990s), I didn’t have Google; I didn’t have the internet, and once you’re in the church, you can’t look at the internet.”

Schenkelberg said that although the show is about her experience in Scientology, its themes are universal.

“Each time I perform, I realize that this isn’t just about Scientology. It’s about anything anyone is afraid to leave,” she said.

I had to ask: What’s the story behind the name of the show?

“I was having a drink in L.A. with my agent. I said, ‘Eric I need a name for my show.’ And he says, ‘Squeeze My Cans.’ He used to always mock me when I was auditing … where you use the e-meter, which is like a lie detector, and connected to the e-meter are two metal cans. So it’s a play on words,” she said with a laugh.

Squeeze My Cans: Surviving Scientology will be performed at 7:30 p.m., Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 7 and 8, at the Desert Rose Playhouse, 69620 Highway 111, in Rancho Mirage. Admission is $30. For tickets or more information, call 760-322-0179, or visit www.dezartperforms.org.

What: The original Musashi tonkotsu

Where: Ramen Musashi, 44491 Town Center Way, Suite G, Palm Desert

How much: $14

Contact: 760-674-7299; ramenpalmdesert.com

Why: The broth is stellar.

Food trends usually arrive in the Coachella Valley about five years later than they arrive in bigger cities. Take ramen, for example: You can’t walk several blocks in any of the major West Coast cities without coming across a ramen shop or three—but here, they are few and far between.

I love a great bowl of ramen, which why I was excited when I learned several months ago about the opening of Ramen Musashi. One of the reasons for my excitement was the pedigree: It’s a sister restaurant of Musashi Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar, which has been open in Palm Desert since 1996, making it one of the valley’s oldest Asian restaurants.

I went to lunch there one recent weekday with my friend Debra. While Ramen Musashi offers vegetarian, chicken and even cold-ramen options, along with a variety of appetizers, Debra and I both ordered the original Musashi tonkotsu—featuring creamy pork bone broth and thin noodles, and topped with braised pork belly chashu, onion, marinated egg, marinated bamboo, kombu, shitake mushrooms and garlic chips.

After the fantastic server delivered the gorgeous, steaming bowls of food, we dove in … and wow: The ramen was revelatory. All of the ingredients were perfect. The pork was tender and delicious; the egg was a creamy delight. The garlic chips and onion did not overwhelm, and the noodles were just right.

But for me, ramen is all about the broth—and this tonkotsu broth was stellar. It was packed with umami, seasoned masterfully and soooooo delicious.

Thanks to the amazing ramen and the great service, Ramen Musashi is pretty special—as good as any of those major-city ramen shops.

What: The smoked pulled pork sandwich

Where: Unique Bite Eatery, 82900 Avenue 42, Indio

How much: $10.99

Contact: 760-342-8286; uniquebiteeatery.com

Why: The quality of the food is unique.

The name Unique Bite Eatery is a bit of a misnomer.

I do not mean this as an insult in any way: In fact, I am a big fan of the entrées offered at this newish fast-casual eatery, located north of Interstate 10 in Indio … but these dishes are not unique. A scan of the menu reveals a whole lot of classic Americana—house-smoked pork, pot roast, spaghetti, fried chicken, grilled chicken, burgers and the like.

On my recent lunch visit, I ordered the house smoked pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw and barbecue sauce. I was torn between that and the creamy chicken with creamy rice, and the lovely woman behind the counter was kind enough to allow me to order the children’s size ($6.99) so I could try it.

After a longer-than-expected wait—although a sign on the wall does warn diners that the food is fresh-made, and that takes time—the aforementioned woman delivered my food. The chicken was tasty—the milk-based sauce on the chicken was flavorful, as was the cooked-in-milk rice—while the sandwich was fantastic. The house-smoked pork was delicious, and the crisp, cool house-made coleslaw was the perfect in-sandwich complement.

It’s worth noting that my friend Jeff tried to meet me for lunch, but got held up; he wound up going to Unique Bite Eatery later that same day, and he offered the smoked brisket sandwich ($12.99) his own endorsement. “If (I lived) closer, I’d be a regular,” Jeff told me.

If Unique Bite Eatery happened to be in my neighborhood, I’d be a regular as well. The food offerings may not be unique—but the quality definitely is.

Here’s some information on two important goings-on this month:

• Best of Coachella Valley voting is now under way!

First-round (nomination) voting in our annual readers’ poll is taking place through Friday, Sept. 13. Click on the link above, and you'll be sent to the open ballot—you fill in the blank in each category.

The top vote-getters will advance to the final round of voting, which will take place at CVIndependent.com from Monday, Sept. 30, through Monday, Oct. 28. The Best of Coachella Valley results will be announced at CVIndependent.com on Monday, Nov. 25, and in our special December print edition.

We run our readers’ poll a little bit differently than those other publications run theirs: For the Best of Coachella Valley, we ask readers to vote only once per round. The goal of other “Best Of” readers’ polls is for the publication to get as much web traffic as possible from readers visiting their websites over and over again to vote. Not us: We’d rather have readers vote just once per round, so our list of winners can be as fair as possible.

If you haven’t voted already … what are you waiting for? Get yourself to CVIndependent.com!

• Some bad news for local media on the circulation front: Kroger, the Cincinnati-based supermarket behemoth, has decided not to renew its agreement with DistribuTech to distribute free publications in its stores around the country.

What does this mean? Barring a change of heart, or Kroger making some sort of arrangement with another distribution company (both of which are unlikely), as of sometime in September, you’ll no longer be able to pick up the print version of the Independent—or any other free publication—at the Ralph’s stores in the Coachella Valley.

This move by Kroger is a very bad thing for both the media and the public. As our friends at the Memphis Flyer in Tennessee put it: “Kroger was providing a true community service with its free publications distribution … because ‘free’ information is often the only information available for a great many of our citizens. They may not be able to afford a subscription to the daily paper or the latest issue of Vanity Fair, but they can pick up (publications like the Independent) on their way out of the grocery store and get some insight into what’s happening in their community.”

As a result of all this, the Independent will lose five very good distribution spots; the good news is that leaves about 385 other locations where people can pick up the newspaper (including the four local Albertsons stores). If you’re one of the people who usually picks us up at Ralph’s, and you need help finding the paper elsewhere, you have two options: One, click on “Find a Copy” here at CVIndependent.com; or two, email me or call me at 760-904-4208, and I’ll personally let you know the closest distribution spots to you.

One more thing: Please feel free to express your displeasure about this decision to management at your local Ralph’s. Be polite—the decision came from corporate headquarters, not local management—but if enough people complain, perhaps those complaints will make their way back to Cincinnati and change some minds.

As always, thanks for reading—and if you have anything to say, don’t hesitate to email me at the address below. Also, be sure to pick up the September 2019 print edition of the Coachella Valley Independent, hitting streets this week.

Owner of 533 Viet Fusion to Open Roly China Fusion in Former Alebrije Space

One of downtown Palm Springs’ best restaurants is no more—but a veteran restaurateur is going to take over that restaurant’s space and hopefully fill a culinary need.

Here’s how it all went down: Alebrije Bistro Mexico, at 1107 N. Palm Canyon Drive, closed in early July. The Mexico City-style upscale restaurant announced on Facebook: “Dear amigos, Alebrije will be closed for the rest of the summer. See you again in September!”

Within a couple of weeks, however, it became apparent that Alebrije would not be seeing us again in September—because Chad Gardner, the owner of both 533 Viet Fusion and Dash and a Handful Catering, announced on Facebook that he’d be opening Roly China Fusion in the space that had been Alebrije’s home.

A July 28 announcement on Facebook said Roly will be “serving authentic Cantonese and Sichuan Chinese Cuisine with (Gardner’s) own modern twists. Roly China Fusion will offer an exceptional social and traditional dining experiences in our indoor-outdoor lounge and restaurant.”

What does all of this mean? First: The closure of Alebrije is truly a loss. For my money, it served some of the most sophisticated food and drink in the Coachella Valley. The roasted suckling pig was on my unofficial Top 10 list of the valley’s best entrées. It will be missed.

Second: The opening of Roly, which could come as soon as October, will be most welcome. Gardner has been looking for his next restaurant project for a while now; he announced back in 2016 that he’d be opening a Mediterranean restaurant in the much-and-still-delayed Andaz Palm Springs hotel, but those plans fell through. Given his success with 533 Viet Fusion, I am excited to see what he’ll do with Chinese cuisine—and it’s a well-known fact that the western Coachella Valley badly needs some good Chinese fare.

Watch www.rolychinafusion.com and Roly’s Facebook page for updates and more information.


Ace Hotel Launches a Monthly Wine-Tasting Series

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club is holding a monthly poolside wine-tasting series in the months leading up to the second annual Palm Springs Wine Festival.

The Golden Grapes tastings each cost $20, will occur on a weekend day between noon and 5 p.m., and will feature a “curated selection of wineries represent(ing) just a few of the new California vintners who are transforming the landscape of wine in the Golden State and beyond,” according to a press release.

On Sunday, Sept. 29, Nomadica wines will be available; on Sunday, Oct. 13, the featured winemaker will be Amy Atwood Selections. On Saturday, Nov. 9, it’ll be Scribe Wine (Nouveau).

As for the second annual Palm Springs Wine Festival … mark your calendars for Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 7 and 8.

The Ace Hotel and Swim club is located at 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. For more information, visit www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.


In Brief

New to 72301 Country Club Drive, Suite 110, in Rancho Mirage: The Sandbox Kitchen, a deli/taco joint that opened in early August. For now, the place is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day but Sunday (and Saturday, when it’s open until 9). We’re already hearing raves about the street tacos and the impressive number of vegan/vegetarian options. Call 760-565-6044, or visit facebook.com/TheSandboxKitchen for more information. … New to 360 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs: InKa Peruvian Cuisine. The restaurant wins our Weirdest Facebook “About” Description Award with this: “The InKa came to Palm Springs, brought with him his best dishes with which he will conquer the entire city.” OK then! The expansive menu features a lot of yummy-sounding dishes with meat and seafood, as well as some intriguing vegetarian options. InKa opens at 11 a.m. Monday and Tuesday, and 9 a.m. the other five days of the week; it’s open daily until at least 10 p.m. For more information, call 760-992-5311, or visit www.facebook.com/inkaperuviancuisine. … Acqua California Bistro, at The River (71800 Highway 111) in Rancho Mirage, is now offering a “Buffet Bar” every Sunday through Friday from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.: $7.99 will get you a selection of pizzas, pastas, salads, sliced meats and other goodies—and the house chardonnay and cabernet wines are just $4.99. Call 760-862-9800, or visit acquaranchomirage.com for more information. … Coming soon to 100 W. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Suite 130, in downtown Palm Springs: Stout Burgers and Beers. It’ll be the sixth Stout location, joining three other Southern California locations, plus restaurants in Brentwood, Tenn., and Louisville, Ky.; visit www.stoutburgersandbeers.com for more information. … Coming soon to 73040 El Paseo, in Palm Desert: Eddie V’s Prime Seafood. It’s a sister restaurant to The Capital Grille chain; visit www.eddiev.com for the scoop.

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