CVIndependent

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Know Your Neighbors

27 Jul 2016
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Imagine coming to the desert to start a new small business, put down roots and make a mark—with no existing ties to the community. That is the story of Nikhil Mehta, a native of New Delhi, India, who relocated to Rancho Mirage last year to start Home Care Assistance, supplying trained caregivers who offer innovative approaches—so badly needed in this aging retirement community. Mehta, 59, came to the United States at age 24 with his wife, Kavita. They went to college together in India, and although she then came to the U.S. with her parents, she returned to India, where she and Nikhil married 35 years ago. Mehta attended the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and graduated with a master’s degree in business. He and Kavita have two children: Arjun, 32, living in Los Angeles, and Jaya, 29, in residency at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. Mehta’s long…
13 Jul 2016
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You feel it in your gut—that uncomfortable feeling of being stereotyped. A prejudicial belief that people with a particular characteristic—race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, etc.—are all the same means we don’t have to recognize others as individuals. It’s the ultimate guilt by association. I was about 12 when it first happened to me. I used to pick up the evening newspaper for my dad every day at the guard shack at the old MGM Studios in Culver City. The guard and I had gotten friendly and exchanged pleasantries each day. One day, when my Culver City High School was slated to play a football game that evening against our arch rivals, Beverly Hills, the guard asked me if I was going to the game. “I can’t go this time, but I hope our team wins,” I said. “Well,” he said, “one can only hope you beat the kikes.” I’m Jewish,…
29 Jun 2016
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Born in the Coachella Valley toward the end of the Generation X demographic, Tizoc DeAztlan, at 37, is the embodiment of all of the best Gen X stereotypes: individualistic, entrepreneurial, tech savvy, goal oriented—and wanting to make a difference. DeAztlan is a Coachella Valley native, born to Roberto, a lawyer, and Amalia, a social activist and feminist (and someone I’ve known for more than 25 years). He has two older sisters. “Yes,” he acknowledges, “I was the baby in the family.” DeAztlan says he was born into politics. “My mom instilled in me the need to see justice, and to not just settle for conditions in the community as they are, or for less than is fair.” A graduate of La Quinta High School in its first graduating class, DeAztlan went on to graduate from Fordham University with a degree in communication. He lives in La Quinta with his wife,…
15 Jun 2016
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“It’s the best of times and the worst of times,” said Nadine Smith, the chief executive officer of Equality Florida, as she reflected on the recent gains for LGBT individuals, including marriage rights—and the horrific slaughter of those at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando in the early morning hours of Sunday, June 12. Her words hit home for me. I’ve been struggling to reconcile spontaneously bursting into joyful tears in the voting booth, mere days before Orlando thrust me back into the violent reality of our times. Any violence that indiscriminately targets a specific ethnicity, or religion, or race, or national origin, or gender is onerous. I see every person whose life was cut short or is still suffering grievous injuries as being just like my son, who is gay. My tears flow freely as the names and ages are called out on the news with small details of their ordinary…
01 Jun 2016
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Those of a certain age will remember Ish Kabibble, the zany cornet player with the strange haircut who played with bandleader Kay Kyser in the 1940s and 1950s, appearing on radio, television and the big screen. Kabibble was born Merwyn Bogue in 1908 in Pennsylvania. According to his daughter Janet Arnot, a Palm Desert resident, he originally studied piano, but didn’t like it—however, he liked the sound of the trumpet. Bogue got one when he was 12, and learned on his own how to play “God Bless America.” Hanging around speakeasy clubs, Bogue fell in love with Dixieland jazz. While in his third year of pre-law studies at West Virginia University, Bogue was playing with small bands. At a dance in 1931, bandleader Hal Kemp asked from the stage, “Is there a trumpet player in the audience?” Bogue sat in, and within months, he heard from Kay Kyser, an old…
18 May 2016
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The current flap about Hillary Clinton playing the “woman card” is nothing short of ridiculous. As a woman, I know what it feels like to be trivialized (called “honey” and “girl”), talked down to (“mansplaining”), ignored, talked over, interrupted and denied a seat at the decision-making table. I also know what can happen to one’s career if one stands up for oneself or responds in kind. So much for the “woman card.” Why aren’t we talking about Donald Trump playing the “man card”? After all, he’s trying to be some sort of alpha male by appealing to other men who wish they had the guts (and the money) to just say whatever they want. You know—a guy who puts down women based on looks, presumes women have less stamina to pursue their ambitions, makes unwanted physical advances, bullies to get his way, ignores a woman if she’s not a “10”…
04 May 2016
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Let me bring you into the world of Sharon Katz, a South African by birth, a music therapist by profession—and, in the words of musician Pete Seeger, “one of the people who is saving the world.” She was born in Port Elizabeth (now called Nelson Mandela Bay) under apartheid—the rigid racial/social ideology system that required citizens to live by race designations (black, colored/mixed race, Indian, white) in segregated areas of the country, with restrictions about who could go where and when. “We lived in a conspiracy of silence,” she says. “South Africa was a prison for everybody.” As a young woman traveling with her family, Katz saw how others barely survived in their segregated communities, and she became obsessed with finding a way to support change. “How can this be my country?” she asked herself. “Seeing all of that changed me forever.” In her teens, she would sneak out to…
20 Apr 2016
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The Paris Peace Accords, which were supposed to end the Vietnam War, were signed Jan. 27, 1973. The United States pulled what American troops remained out of that country. Congress then passed the Foreign Assistance Act of 1974 cutting off all military aid to South Vietnam’s government in Saigon. As the North subsequently advanced effortlessly toward Saigon, President Gerald Ford ordered the evacuation of all American personnel, including the removal of as many refugees as possible who had been friendly toward America. The U.S. Embassy was not intended to be a major departure point, but many became stranded there, including thousands of South Vietnamese hoping to claim refugee status. I still remember the iconic pictures of those evacuation efforts through the night of April 29, 1975, and that last American helicopter taking off from the roof with people hanging off the sides—and many still lined up, unable to get out.…
07 Apr 2016
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In his mid-70s, my late husband, a professional writer and avid reader, was diagnosed with macular degeneration. He had what is known as the “dry” type, which is progressive and can take many years to fully obstruct one’s vision. (There is also a “wet” type, which is fast-moving and can lead to blindness, but it can be reversed somewhat with a shot into the eye if caught quickly.) He eventually needed a magnifying glass to read the daily paper and had to give up driving after dark. For several years, I’ve had those tiny black dots floating across my vision that seem to afflict everyone of a certain age, and I recently developed a “floater” in my right eye that is like a gauzy haze. Although it has been diagnosed as temporary, it is compromising my eyesight. All of this became particularly pertinent when a friend who leads a class…
23 Mar 2016
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We live in a time when the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination is being targeted by his own party (via the Republican Principles PAC) with a depressingly accurate TV advertisement that quotes the various derogatory expressions Donald Trump has used over the years to describe women. It’s also a time when a Lane Bryant ad featuring “plus size” woman resulted in a backlash—including two major networks, ABC and NBC, refusing to run it. This means it’s time to address an age-old issue: the objectification of women, and its resulting impact on women in particular, and society in general. Sure, there are lots of examples of how badly some nations around the world treat half of the population—horrors like genital mutilation/female circumcision; burning women alive who are suspected of violating cultural norms like having extra-marital sex (including having been raped); the sex trafficking of young girls; and practices like arranged…

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