CVIndependent

Wed02262020

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

A few notes as we kick off Volume 8 here at the Independent:

• Am I the only one having a hard time grasping the fact that it’s almost 2020? When I first saw Beth Allen’s design for the new print-issue cover, and I saw the date “January 2020,” I just stopped and stared at it for a while.

Yeah, I know I’ll get used to it soon enough. But for now, it really seems weird.

• We’ve recently published pieces by two new-to-the-Independent scribes: You’ll find Carlynne McDonnell’s inaugural pets column here, and here, you’ll find Andrea Gomez’s first piece for us—an interview with the Palm Springs International Film Festival’s new artistic director, Coachella Valley native Liliana Rodriguez.

Welcome, Carlynne and Andrea! If you want to join them in the pages of the Independent, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We’re still looking for people to write (paid!) freelance pieces focused on marijuana, hiking/the outdoors, event previews, and more.

• Our signature event, Palm Springs Craft Cocktail Week, is back for its fourth year! The week starts Friday, Jan. 31, and goes through Saturday, Feb. 8. During those nine days, bars and restaurants valley-wide will highlight special craft cocktails—and give a portion of the proceeds from the sales of those cocktails to our beneficiaries, the Desert AIDS Project and the LGBT Community Center of the Desert.

The highlight of the week is the Palm Springs Craft Cocktail Championship, taking place at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 5, at Moxie Palm Springs. Up to 10 of the valley’s best bartenders will battle for the coveted Audience Choice Award and the Craft Cocktail Championship—and, yes, attendees get to taste all of the competing cocktails! Presale tickets, through Jan. 10, are $35; they’ll be $40 after that, and $45 at the door if we don’t sell out (and we probably will).

Pick up next month’s issue for our special Cocktail Week program—and head to PSCraftCocktails.com for updates and/or to buy championship tickets!

• Finally, I’d like to kick off 2020 by offering my sincere appreciation to everyone who has supported the Independent—readers, advertisers and members of our Supporters program—as we enter our eighth full year.

This is not a great time for most newspapers, as you know. In fact, one of my favorite alternative publications, the OC Weekly, was shuttered by its (lazy, non-innovative) owners just before Thanksgiving.

That same week, we were putting the finishing touches on our December issue—which, revenue-wise, was our best ever.

Do we still need to do better here at the Independent, in terms of bringing in revenue? Yes, we do; I am dying to add more writers/reporters so we can better tell the valley’s stories—and we have some things in the works that will hopefully help us do just that. (And I’d like, one day, to be able to pay myself a living wage … but that’s a discussion for another time.) Watch this space for details in the upcoming months … and again, thank you for your support. Please, please keep it up.

As always, thank you for reading. Happy New Year, and be sure to pick up a copy of the January 2020—yep, still seems weird—print edition, hitting the streets this week.

Published in Editor's Note

Last week, the Independent published the final ¡Ask a Mexican! column, as penned by my friend and colleague Gustavo Arellano.

I was shocked on Oct. 13 when I got the news that Arellano—a longtime OC Weekly scribe who had served as the paper’s editor and spokesperson for many years—had stepped down. He quit, he said, because he refused to lay off half of his staff, and the owner would not accept any of Arellano’s counter-proposals (one of which included cutting Gustavo’s own salary in half).

At first, I fully expected Gustavo’s column to continue on in some form, albeit with a different name than ¡Ask a Mexican!, because the OC Weekly owns the rights to the name. In fact, in the version of this column that ran in the November print edition, I said the column would probably continue, as that was what I’d been told. However, after we went to press, Gustavo let me know the column would indeed end; he explained the decision in the final column, which ran last week. While I understand the decision, it breaks my heart. It was a fantastic column—and the first “regular” feature to ever start running at CVIndependent.com, way back when we were in beta five-plus years ago.

As for Gustavo’s plight … this is how it often goes at newspapers these days. While I have no inside knowledge of the OC Weekly’s financials, I do know that many layoffs at newspapers over the last 15-plus years have happened not because the publications were losing money—but because profits weren’t high enough.

This fact is one of the reasons I decided to leave my job as the editor of the Tucson Weekly in 2012, and then start the Independent here. The then-owners of the Tucson Weekly, Wick Communications, treated both me and the newspaper very well during my decade-long tenure there—but I knew that wouldn’t last forever. Sure enough, a little more than a year after I departed, Wick sold the Tucson Weekly—and the paper has been subjected to serious budget cuts ever since.

As bleak as all of this sounds … there is reason for hope. Last weekend, a number of my colleagues gathered in Chicago for the annual Local Independent Online News Publishers (LION) Summit. (Unfortunately, I was unable to attend.)

LION is a vibrant and growing organization of mostly newer, mostly online local-news organizations across the country. Almost all of us “LIONs” are small, scrappy and hardworking. Oh, and one more thing: We’re innovating. We’re finding new ways to tell our communities’ stories. And we’re investing in our publications rather than making cuts to keep shareholders or wealthy owners happy.

Gustavo Arellano is a gifted, hustling hard-worker who will land on his feet, so I am not worried about him. I’m also upbeat about the future of journalism. However, I am saddened by the huge loss that Orange County will suffer as a result of the decline of its independent alternative newspaper, the OC Weekly.

As for that aforementioned November print edition: It’s our annual Pride Issue. It’s on newsstands throughout the Coachella Valley right now—and we will be at the Greater Palm Springs Pride Festival this coming weekend. Come say hi! Thanks for reading, as always, and don’t hesitate to contact me with comments or questions.

Published in Editor's Note

Dear Readers: Many of ustedes must be scratching your heads right now: “What happened to ¡Ask a Mexican!” You’re preguntando yourselves, “Who the hell is this cholo nerd where the Mexican logo used to be?”

It is I, gentle cabrones, your eternal Mexican: Gustavo Arellano, child of immigrants from Zacatecas, one of whom came to el Norte in 1969 in the trunk of a Chevy driven by a hippie chick from Huntington Beach. And I’m triste to say that this columna is coming to an end.

My day job during the life of ¡Ask a Mexican! was at OC Weekly, an alternative newspaper in Orange County, where I was born and raised. (Don’t believe The Real Housewives of Orange County: there’s a chingo of raza here.) I started as a staff writer, then became managing editor, then was editor for nearly six years until Oct. 13, when I resigned instead of laying off half my staff like the Weekly’s owner wanted me to. No me rajé, and I’ll never regret quitting my dream job, because I know I did the right thing.

With me leaving the Weekly, I also must leave behind ¡Ask a Mexican! See, I don’t own the trademark to the title, and I can’t pay muchos pesos for something that the Weekly’s owner (or the ones before him) should’ve given to me as a gift for 13 years of being the hardest-working Mexican this side of Beto Durán.

I thought about continuing under a different name (¡Ask a Pocho! ¡Query a Mexican! ¡Pregunta, Pendejo!) But then I realized I don’t have to continue the column anymore. See, I’ve been to el cerro. And I’ve seen the Promised Land of Aztlán.

It sure doesn’t seem like that at a time when millions of our friends and familia are at risk of deportation, when Donald Trump wants to build a border wall (Man, where’s Alex Lora when you need him?) and when gabachos keep mistaking Día de los Muertos for Halloween. But we’re now at a place where whip-smart humor is at the touch of a meme, and where our political and economic power continues to soar like voladores totonacos. We live in an era when everyone can be a defender of la raza against gabachos, whether said gabas assault us or try to claim Rick Bayless is great.

In other words, ¡Ask a Mexican! is no longer necessary, because Mexicans have won a war that began when Sir Francis Drake sunk the Spanish Armada. We’re here, y no nos vamos. We’re victims no longer; we’re actually chingonxs. And the sooner Mexicans realize this, the better we’ll be.

I’ll let others debate whether my attempt to fight racism with satire and stats was visionary or just vendido. I’ll still answer questions about Mexicans on The Tom Leykis Show on the last Wednesday of every month at 4 p.m. (tune in to blowmeuptom.com), because doing so keeps my mind Julio Cesar Chavez sharp and not Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. soft.

But in text, no más. I will let ¡Ask a Mexican! die, and let its passing join the pantheon of gabacho atrocities against Mexicans, like the U.S. stealing half of Mexico, or Rick Bayless.

I wish modern-day journalism allowed me more space, but it doesn’t, so my thanks must be brief. Gracias to friends, Marge, family, my chica; all the papers that carried my columna over the years; Santo Niño de Atocha; Will Swaim; Daniel Hernandez; David Kuhn; and so many more.

Nos vemos, gentle cabrones. Follow me on social media to see what I do next, and hook a compa up with bacanora! No se rajen against evil. Diga no a la piratería ¡Viva la Reconquista! Oh, and #fucktrump.

Email Gustavo at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano

Published in Ask a Mexican

When it started to sink in late Tuesday night that Donald Trump—racist, misogynist, media-basher—was going to clinch enough Electoral College votes to become the next president of the United States, editors and art directors at many of the Independent's alternative-weekly brethren started thinking: How in the hell are we going to properly convey what has just happened?!

Below is a sampling of the amazing work they came up with.

Published in Editor's Note