Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Jimmy Boegle

The Legendary Purple Room Closes

Sad news for fans of the swanky, old-school Palm Springs vibe: The Legendary Purple Room, located inside of the Club Trinidad time share at 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, has closed.

When we called the Club Trinidad to learn more, a woman identifying herself only as Jackie confirmed the closure, and said it was unclear when the Purple Room would reopen. When we asked if that meant that the venue would reopen at some point, she said she didn’t know, and that we needed to talk to Club Trinidad manager/CEO Arthur Brigman—who is on vacation this week.

We’ll check in with Brigman when he’s back, and pass along what we learn.

I was fortunate enough to enjoy a cocktail or two at the Purple Room several times before it closed (although I never saw any live music there), and it breaks my heart that it’s gone. It was a unique, quirky and decidedly old-school club—a club that stunningly few people seemed to know about. My fingers are crossed that it will, in fact, reopen at some point—hopefully with a little more promotion and advertising heft behind it.

Total Wine Opening in Palm Desert

While the alcohol gods take away, they also giveth: The valley’s first Total Wine will open tomorrow (Thursday, June 13), with a grand-opening shindig from 6 to 8 p.m., featuring free tastings and live music.

The chain store, at 72339 Highway 111 in Palm Desert, boasts that it offers more than 8,000 wines, 2,500 beers and 3,000 spirits.

While the valley is already home to another big-box booze behemoth—there’s a BevMo location in La Quinta—this store will make it easier for local liquor aficionados to acquire those hard-to-find spirits.

Find more info at

POM Changes Up Its Menu

The folks at POM, one of Fantasy Springs Resort Casino’s signature restaurants, have changed up the menu for the toasty summer months.

Lunch menu highlights include a Moroccan chicken salad (with Moroccan-spiced chicken, mesculin greens, roasted beets, goat cheese, dates, almonds and cranberries, all topped with a citrus-mustard dressing). The new dinner menu includes wild mushroom ravioli, osso bucco and pork empanadas (with yummy Manchego cheese included in the filling).

Get the full lowdown at, or call 760-345-2450. Fantasy Springs is located at 84245 Indio Springs Parkway in Indio.

Restaurant Week Enters Its Final Days

The 17-day dining bonanza that is Palm Springs Desert Resorts Restaurant Week will come to a close this Sunday, June 16.

I have been fortunate enough to enjoy the three-course prix-fixe menus, for either $26 or $38, at a decent-sized handful of the participating restaurants, and for the most part, I’ve enjoyed the heck out of myself. It’s especially fantastic when a restaurant really embraces the concept and offers their customers, both old and new, a great deal and/or something special. The best example of this I have seen has been at Trio (707 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs), where the good people there even revamped their main menu to feature, first and foremost, their Restaurant Week offerings.

However, not all of the participants are embracing the week so fully. At least one restaurant we visited didn’t give us their Restaurant Week menu. (Thank goodness we did our research in advance.) And at yet another couple of restaurants, they’re offering smaller portions of regular menu items—without warning customers that the portions are, in fact, smaller.

I completely understand why restaurant managers may want to offer smaller portions of certain items (for example, soup) for the lower prices featured during Restaurant Week. But if they do so, they should say they’re doing so: Call the smaller portion “petite,” or say it’s a “small bowl” of whatever it is. But offering smaller portions of regular menu items without saying they’re doing so just hurts the restaurant’s image: Newcomers assume the portions are always that small, and in-the-know regulars are disappointed when the smaller portions arrive at the table.

But enough complaining. Nitpicks aside, Restaurant Week is a great event for foodies of all stripes; get out and enjoy it while you can. Find full details at

Earlier this week, nonprofit medical-marijuana dispensary Desert Organic Solutions celebrated its third anniversary.

While three years does not sound like a long time, in medical-marijuana-dispensary terms, it’s practically an eternity: Since the June 5, 2010, opening of Desert Organic Solutions, the legal landscape for medical marijuana has been constantly shifting, and as a result, countless collectives and dispensaries have come and gone in that time.

The most recent shift came on May 6, when the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled that local governments had the authority to prohibit medical-marijuana dispensaries. Since Palm Springs is the only Riverside County city to license marijuana dispensaries, all medical-marijuana storefronts in the Coachella Valley—other than the three allowed by Palm Springs—were either forced to close, or risk an ugly government shutdown.

Gary Cherlin, the president of Desert Organic Solutions, had nothing to worry about regarding the May 6 legal decision. His dispensary—located at 19486 Newhall St., in an industrial park just off Interstate 10 near the Indian Canyon Drive exit—is the oldest of the three licensed dispensaries in Palm Springs. (The others are the similarly named but unrelated Organic Solutions of the Desert on Ramon Road, and C.A.P.S. on Airport Center Drive.)

On Desert Organic Solutions’ anniversary, Cherlin sat down with the Independent to chat about medical marijuana in the Coachella Valley.

Tell me how you wound up being the president of Desert Organic Solutions. After all, not a lot of people grow up wanting to be the president of a medical marijuana collective.

I had seen a number of people who I knew, including family members, who had sicknesses. My grandfather had cancer and used marijuana for it. … (The mother of) one of my friends … had multiple sclerosis—still has MS—and she was using marijuana for it. All these people were really getting a lot better through the use of marijuana—(it was) not curing these things, but really helping them.

What was the actual impetus (to start Desert Organic Solutions)?

I had seen how beneficial (medical marijuana) was, and even in my life, I had used it for a lot of different things. So I was reading the paper one day, and … there was an article about (the city of) Palm Springs opening it up for anybody who wanted to put in an application and pay the ($7,500) fee to possibly get licensed. … So I figured: ‘You know what? I’ll give it a shot and throw my hat in the ring.’ … It was a lengthy process, going back and forth to the City Council meetings, and basically, when it came down to it, we were one the lucky ones that got a license.

In terms of medical marijuana dispensaries, collectives, etc., you are fairly secure. You’re in a city that supports you, and you’re licensed. However, there’s seemingly always legal drama, most recently in Los Angeles (where voters recently approved an initiative to restrict the number of dispensaries), for example. Are you concerned about the future?

You never know what can happen in the future. I would have never done this if I couldn’t get a license to do it, first of all. I wouldn’t just open up. … I believe that we’re secure. We’re in Palm Springs; they licensed us. But that’s a hard question to answer. You never know.

What are your thoughts on the recent California Supreme Court decision that cities and counties can ban medical-marijuana dispensaries? That resulted in a lot of medical-marijuana operations closing across the valley.

The most important thing, really, is that Palm Springs took the proper steps to make sure the patients in the Palm Springs area and the Coachella Valley had places to go where they could have safe access and quality medication. Kudos to them for doing it.

There are patients in Coachella, Indio and the far parts of Palm Desert, and so on, and if they’re not doing well, it’s going to be a major task for them to drive the 25 miles or so each way to get to a dispensary here in Palm Springs. Would you support other cities in the valley—like, say, Indio—opening doors to dispensaries or collectives?

100 percent. Of course I’m in support of that. I want patients to get their medicine. That’s why I said the most important thing is that Palm Springs did this (allowed medical marijuana collectives), because if they hadn’t, (no collectives) would be here. So, yeah, I am supportive. It’s up to the cities and the counties to make their own decisions. I think the most important thing is that patients have somewhere to go to get safe access in a regulated environment.

What do you think you and your fellow members have done right? After all, you’re the only dispensary here to have made it for three years.

The main thing was getting the license, obviously. We have kept prices down and always have different specials every day of the week for patients. We offer discounts to veterans. Our prices are compassionate, and I think the main thing is we have very high quality medication. The cream always rises to the top, so to speak. (The patients) go to the different dispensaries; they know what medicine is out there, and the main thing that I have focused on is quality.

Where do you get the medication?

Patients who have excess; that’s what the rule is. That’s the law.

If another city in the valley were to start accepting applications for dispensaries, would you consider having Desert Organic Solutions apply, so you could help more people? Or are you just focused on this location?

We’re focused on this location. I haven’t even thought about the future. We’re really trying to focus on the best things we can do for the patients who are here.

Do you wish that marijuana were legal to everyone? Or do you think the medical system we have right now—where patients who need it can get it—is enough?

I am more concerned about the medical aspects of it, for the patients. I don’t have anything against it, if states want to approve it for recreational use. But that’s not my focus. My focus is really to help the patients.

Desert Organic Solutions is located at 19486 Newhall St., No. 102. For more information, call 760-288-4000, or visit

Sandra Austin doesn’t think fathers get the respect they deserve.

She tells a story about a man she knows whose significant other passed away. They had been raising six kids together—and four of them aren’t biologically his own. Nonetheless, he’s carrying on: He’s now a single father, and doing everything he can for those six kids.

“He stepped up,” Austin says. “That’s commendable. He needs support.”

That’s one reason why Austin—the co-founder of the Family Health and Support Network—has given the nonprofit organization’s annual Juneteenth in the Coachella Valley event the theme “Fatherhood: Dispel the Myth.”

The sixth-annual event, presented by Augustine Casino, takes place on Saturday, June 15, at the La Quinta Resort. The celebration of African-American culture and heritage is a benefit for the Family Health and Support Network’s foster-care program. Performers include gospel/soul singer Gina Carey, and headlining singer L. Young. E.M. Abdulmumin, the founder of the DuBois Institute and the developer of Riverside County’s Building Resilience in African-American Families program, will offer the keynote address.

Every year, Juneteenth has had a different theme. However, Austin feels so strongly about the need to support good fathers that she says she may give the event a focus on fatherhood every year from now on.

“It’s really needed in our community,” she says.

While Juneteenth in the Coachella Valley focuses on African-American heritage—Austin says she’s been trying for years to “motivate” the valley’s black population to show off its culture—FHSN’s foster-care efforts involve the entire community. Frankly, the foster-care community needs all the support it can get, especially here in the Coachella Valley.

FHSN has contracts with Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange counties to place children who need foster care. Austin says FHSN—which she co-founded a decade ago—currently works with around 38 foster homes, and about 10 of those are in the Coachella Valley.

That’s not nearly enough.

“We’re one of the very few agencies physically located in the Coachella Valley, so we often get the calls (for Coachella Valley kids needing foster homes) first,” Austin says.

More than half of the time, when FHSN receives a call about a foster child needing placement, FHSN has to say no, Austin says: There aren’t enough qualified foster homes in the valley. That means those children get placed by other agencies in homes that are farther away from the area those kids know.

“Our primary goal is to put out the plea for foster parents,” Austin says. “… Maybe it’s because we have the reputation for being a resort town or whatever; there wasn’t much awareness. Some people didn’t even know they receive financial assistance (when they take in a foster child).”

So this year’s Juneteenth celebration has multiple goals, according to Sandra Austin. It’s a fundraiser for the foster-care program; it’s an event to honor African-American culture; and it’s an opportunity to give the community’s good, caring fathers a much-needed shout-out.

“That’s been my focus, that people will become aware that there is an African-American community here. And there’s a need for foster parents. And there’s a need for elders—African-American (and other) men to work with the youth population,” she says.

Juneteenth in the Coachella Valley, presented by Augustine Casino, takes place on Saturday, June 15, at the La Quinta Resort and Club, 49499 Eisenhower Drive in La Quinta. The theme for this year’s event, a benefit for the Family Health and Support Network, is “Fatherhood: Dispel the Myth.” The evening begins at 6 p.m. with a VIP reception, and is followed by dinner, performances, the keynote and the Pioneer Awards ceremony at 7 p.m. Guests are encouraged to wear “smart casual white.” Tickets are $60 for general admission, and $50 for FHSN foster parents; VIP tickets are sold out. For more information or to buy tickets, call 760-340-2442, or visit For more information on the Family Health and Support Network, visit

The Village Pub in downtown Palm Springs is trying to make Sunday a fun day, with its aptly named—you guessed it—Sunday Funday lineup. At 1 p.m. every Sunday, Scott Carter will take the stage, giving way to Rob Martinez at 5. And at 9 p.m., put on your dancing shoes (whatever that means) for the IdolEyez DJs: Kohdi Rayne and Anwaar Hines. Rayne, 28, is the lead house DJ at the Village Pub, and he’s called the valley home since 2008; Hines, 35, is a Yucca Valley resident. For more information, visit, or better yet, track down the pub on Facebook. The IdolEyez guys were kind enough to run The Lucky 13 gauntlet; here are their responses.

What was the first concert you attended?

Kohdi: Nocturnal Wonderland, in 1999.

Anwaar: The Boys (“Dial My Heart”) at the Hawthorne Mall.

What was the first album you owned?

Kohdi: 311, self-titled.

Anwaar: Beastie Boys, License to Ill, and 2 Live Crew, until my mother burned (them). I guess 12-year-olds aren’t supposed to be listening to “Throw That D.”

What bands are you listening to right now?

Kohdi: As a DJ spinning records more than 30 hours a week, I don’t listen to anything I’m not playing for a crowd. Too much sound blasting in my ears makes me really appreciate how loud silence is.

Anwaar: Bayside, Tiger Army, Death On Wednesday, Platypus, and the Ohio Players.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

Kohdi: I play what the people want and what makes me move. I have an understanding and an underlying appreciation for all the music I play. I never understood “Dutch house” for the longest time. It all makes sense now.

Anwaar: Are people still listening to dubstep? That would be my answer if so.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

Kohdi: I have been dying to see Daft Punk live! They’re phenomenal artists I was raised listening to, but they stopped touring after I got into the scene.

Anwaar: Metallica, Platypus, and Queen.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Kohdi: I have a pseudo passion for musicals. Did someone say Rent?

Anwaar: Teena Marie.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Kohdi: I have played more than 1,500 events around the U.S. My favorite location has to be The Date Shed. They have the absolute BEST sound out here, and the decor is incredible. So many major artists have played there. The location tends to resonate with old souls.

Anwaar: The Village Pub, and Gallagher’s Irish Pub in San Diego.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

Kohdi: “I’m up all night to get lucky,” Daft Punk (featuring Pharrell Williams), “Get Lucky.”

Anwaar: “I’m feeling like a star, you can’t stop my shine, I’m lovin’ cloud nine, my head’s in the sky, I’m solo, I’m ridin’ solo, I’m ridin’ solo, I’m ridin' solo, solo,” Jason Derulo, “Ridin’ Solo.” My 22-month-old daughter keeps it on replay.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Kohdi: DJ Irene! She is the reason I started spinning records: incredible energy, full of positivity, and she mixed killer music. I based my track selection and tastes around her stage presence until I developed my own over the last 15 years.

Anwaar: Platypus. It was my father’s band in the 1970s before he passed in 1979, and on June 1, I got to go to Dayton, Ohio, and play drums in his honor with his brothers in the band—meeting them and my family for the first time ever after.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

Kohdi: I would ask DJ BL3ND to battle me without his mask on.

Anwaar: “Why do you sing through your nose like that?” to the lead singer of Creed.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Kohdi: “Lebanese Blonde,” Thievery Corporation. It’s the song that opened my mind to what the word “groove” really means! I’m sure Anwaar himself will mix it in for me!

Anwaar: I’m gonna die? That’s news to me! I guess I never really thought about it. I won’t be there to hear it, and … I know Kohdi Rayne will drop a hell of a set, so I’m sure I’ll be happy with whatever is played. My funeral will be a party; it’s in my will.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Kohdi: Incubus, Make Yourself. The album is FUNKY and groovy! And some of the best DJs in the world are in there. I have memorized and practiced every scratch routine on that album hundreds of times.

Anwaar: Any Bone Thugs-N-Harmony or Teena Marie album.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Kohdi: Jamiroquai, “Little L.” It’s hard to get groovier than that!

Anwaar: New Kids on the Block, “Remix (I Like The).” LOVE IT! (Scroll down to hear both songs!)

What: The Tuesday-night spaghetti with meat sauce

Where: Bongo Johnny’s Patio Bar and Grille, 214 E. Arenas Road, Palm Springs

How much: $6.95

Contact: 760-866-1905;

Why: It’s delicious, bottomless and amazingly inexpensive.

The website announces: “Bongo Johnny's is one of the best neighborhood restaurants in Palms Springs.”

The strange “Palms Springs” reference aside, I agree with that assessment—especially on Tuesdays, when this Arenas Road, gay-friendly restaurant offers its “Italian Night” special.

For $6.95, one can get all the spaghetti with meat sauce that one can snork down, as well as either soup or salad. (If one wants to add a large, tasty, house-made meatball to the plate—and one probably should—add $2.50. For some out-of-this-world garlic bread, add another $2.50.)

The thing about the spaghetti with meat sauce is this: Not only is it a smokin’ deal; the food is actually quite good. The meat sauce is made by people in the kitchen who know what they’re doing; it’s flavorful, meaty and satisfying.

Can you find better restaurant spaghetti with meat sauce out there? Perhaps (although you won’t find it at those mediocre Italian-ish chains in Palm Desert or Rancho Mirage). Will you find all-you-can-eat pasta this good, and this inexpensive? I sincerely doubt it. (And if you do, let me know where, please.)

Unless you’re a vegetarian or in a 12-step program for gluttony, there’s no reason not to check out Bongo Johnny’s on Tuesday night. The service is friendly; the liquor is moderately priced; and the outside patio is a people-watching bonanza. (If you are a vegetarian, there are other items on the menu that’ll please you.)

For more on Bongo Johnny’s, check out the aforementioned website, or visit the restaurant’s page on Facebook, even if the page is impersonally robotic and features only two posts, repeated verbatim. (Every Tuesday, the page touts Italian night; and every Friday, it announces the Friday night ribs special.) It’s oddly creepy, for some reason.

So, yeah, Bongo Johnny’s online presence needs help. Thank goodness the restaurant’s spaghetti and meatballs plate does not.

Indio native (and current Coachella resident) Giorg Tierez, 31, is a paraeducator at an elementary school—and a member of Burning Bettie, a band which touts itself as playing good ol’ fashioned rock ’n’ roll. You can catch some of that rock this Friday, May 31, at The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., in Indio. The music kicks off at 9, when Burning Bettie, Boycott Radio, DJ Guy Worden and DJ J Sizzle will open for Dirt, a band which plays the music of Alice in Chains. Tickets are $5, and you can get ’em at To learn more about the band, mosey over to their Facebook page.

What was the first concert you attended?


What was the first album you owned?

(An album by) R&B group Shai.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Queens of the Stone Age, and Muse.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

The Harlem Shake.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

Queen … or Queens of the Stone Age.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

I’m not sure … lol.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Whisky a Go Go (in West Hollywood).

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

“Give me something good to die for, to make it beautiful to live,” Queens of the Stone Age, “Go With the Flow.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Incubus: To be so different and influenced by so many genres and to put it together to make a unique sound is what blew my mind. It's what I would like to think Burning Bettie has to offer!

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

I dunno. I'd ask myself a couple of questions, I think.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Sleep Walk,” Santo and Johnny.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Songs for the Deaf, Queens of the Stone Age.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Sweet and Bitter” by Burning Bettie. We’re still in the recording process … but you can watch it live this Friday at The Date Shed.

Restaurant Week Keeps Expanding

First, the good folks behind the awkwardly named Palm Springs Desert Resorts Restaurant Week extended the “week” to 17 days, from May 31 to June 16.

Now they’ve gone and made the week even longer.

On Wednesday, May 29, and Thursday, May 30, a variety of Restaurant Week participants are participating in “Uncorked,” a series of 16 special dinners pairing multi-course meals with delicious alcoholic beverages. Just a few examples: On Wednesday, the Ace Hotel’s Kings Highway will, so say the people at Ace, “feature some of the freshest farm to table entrées complimented by some darn incredible craft beer from around the country” for $65; meanwhile, Las Casuelas Terraza will offer four courses, each paired with tequila, for $45. On Thursday, Pinzimini at the Westin Mission Hills will meld Italian creations with Italian wines and the house-made limoncello for $85.

Of course, reservations for all of these “Uncorked” meals are strongly suggested.

For the 17 days of Restaurant Week proper, participating restaurants—more than 80 of them, all across the valley—will offer three-course meals for $26 or $38. Some of these deals are amazing: When else could you get a three-course meal at, say, Mastro’s Steakhouse for $38?!

It’s a great time to be a foodie in the Coachella Valley. Get all the details at

Update: Thai Smile Palm Springs Gets Ready to Move

Two weeks ago in this space, we reported that Thai Smile Palm Springs, the popular restaurant currently at 651 N. Palm Canyon Drive, would soon be taking over the old La Casita spot at 100 S. Indian Canyon Drive.

We now have more details on what’s going on: Restaurant spokesman Chari Godakanda tells us that Thai Smile will be vacating the Palm Canyon Drive space, but only when the new location is ready—a process he hopes will take about two more months.

Godakanda says Thai Smile outgrew the Palm Canyon Drive building, and the new, larger space will allow more seating—and a larger, more efficient kitchen will help the staff better handle busy periods for both dine-in and takeout customers.

Crazy Coconut Expands Offerings

The Crazy Coconut Bar and Grill, located at 166 N. Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, is known for its popular karaoke nights—in fact, there are times when screeching voices emanating from the Crazy Coconut patio can be heard blocks away.

However, Bryan Gallyot and his team at the Crazy Coconut also want the restaurant to be known for its burgers. In fact, they claim that their burgers are the best in town—a big boast, considering the existence of great burger places like Tyler’s, Woody’s and Grind—all of which are within a few blocks of the Crazy Coconut.

I recently stopped in to check out the burgers for myself and the “Ol’ Bleu,” a half-pound burger topped with bacon, jalapeno slices and blue cheese ($10.95, including hand-cut fries). While I am not prepared to declare the Crazy Coconut’s burgers as the town’s best, I will say this: That was one damned tasty burger.

Get more info at (Warning: The webpage blares Journey’s “Any Way You Want It” for no good reason.)

Have a restaurant news tip? Email it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.!

Thursday, 23 May 2013 15:30

The Lucky 13: Jack Kohler, of War Drum

Jack Kohler, 23, sings and plays the keyboard for War Drum, a band described on their Facebook page thusly: “From the sun-dripped hills of the desert comes WAR DRUM, a self-described psychedelic spook rock sound.” When he’s not playing psychedelic spook rock, the Indio resident and La Quinta native works in music promotion at the Ace Hotel, among other activities; he is also a member of the band WAXY. War Finder just got done with a European tour in support of its latest album, Fortune Finder, and they’ll celebrate their homecoming on Friday, May 24, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Tribesmen will join the men of War Drum for the free show, which kicks off at 9 p.m. For more, head to, or seek out the band on Facebook.

What was the first concert you attended?

Probably Styx or something weird with my parents.

What was the first album you owned?

The Doors, The Soft Parade.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Tame Impala, The Black Angels, Sleepy Sun, Father John Misty, The Asteroid #4, WAXY.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

Dubstep. What’s going on there?

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett era. I always wanted to see what that was all about.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

ELO. I don’t know why I like them so much, but every time I put them on at a party, everyone hates it.

What’s your favorite music venue?

No brainer: Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace. Long live Pappy’s!

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

“And I’ve made my mind up, you’re going to be mine!” Donovan, “Sunshine Superman.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Pink Floyd. I remember hearing them for the first time and having this overwhelming desire to find out how and why they did what they do. Still figuring that out to this day.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

I’d ask R. Kelly why he’s such a genius.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

My band can pick that one. They know me best.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Lonerism by Tame Impala. These guys are way ahead of our time, or maybe way behind in the best way. All the tones are there; the lyrics are relevant; and the musicianship is unmatched. Best band playing right now.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Low Light,” War Drum. (Scroll down to hear it.)

While other Coachella Valley cities tend to get more attention, it’s the city of Indio that—by a fairly wide margin—has the largest population.

With more than 80,000 residents, it’s one of California’s fastest-growing cities; it’s also the home of the Coachella and Stagecoach music bonanzas. In fact, city leaders recently gave Indio the tagline “The City of Festivals.”

However, a drive down once-bustling Fargo Street in the downtown/old town part of Indio reveals that all is not well: Most of that population growth has been in the suburbs, and the city’s core features numerous vacant, boarded-up buildings. Meanwhile, the city government’s reputation is still recovering following the 2010 retirement of Indio City Manager Glenn Southard following a series of financial controversies. (Editor's Note: Elaine Holmes wants to make it clear that she was a supporter of Southard and his "positive approach to Indio.")

But there are signs of progress in downtown Indio, too. For starters, the College of the Desert’s new East Valley Center is rising on Oasis Street, and is slated to open in a year or so. And back down on Fargo Street, the quirky Indio Performing Arts Center is drawing people to downtown for a variety of entertainment.

One of the people who is leading the charge to improve both Indio itself and its reputation is Elaine Holmes. She and her husband, Doug, gave up jobs in corporate America to move from San Clemente to Indio in 2004, when they bought PJ’s Desert Trophies and Gifts, located in downtown Indio on Miles Avenue. During her nine years in Indio, she’s gotten increasingly involved in the city leadership. She was on the board of directors of the Indio Chamber of Commerce, and 2 1/2 years ago, she was elected to the five-member Indio City Council. This year, she’s serving as the city’s mayor (a title that rotates among members on an annual basis).

The Independent recently sat down with Holmes at PJ’s Desert Trophies and Gifts to talk about the city of Indio, her involvement, the city’s future—and even medical marijuana.

So, why Indio?

The people. The people in this community are wonderful. They are very giving; they’re very generous with their own selves and their own time. They are people who are eager to see other people successful. … You just can’t help but get involved with that, and we did, and we really got engaged.

Was there something special—something different—that you noticed about Indio when you moved here that, for example, you hadn’t seen in San Clemente?

It’s a whole different way of life, and, certainly, Indio is a smaller community. It’s a tightly knit, more-close-knit community. When were in San Clemente, because we both worked in corporate America, we didn’t have time to get involved with the community, so when we moved here, we became more engaged.

What made you decide to jump into political life? Even in a relatively small town, politics is politics …

I am a businessperson—really, a small-business-person now—and I felt that I needed to be an advocate for other small-business folks in the city of Indio. That really was the first launch. Secondarily, we are involved with this old town, or downtown, and became a part of the revitalization. I saw the potential; there’s so much potential in Indio, up by the freeway, but also in this old town area, and I really wanted to be involved and be a part of it.

The first time I drove through here (downtown/old town Indio), I went: “Whoa. This looks rough,” especially the part that IPAC is on (Fargo Street). Here (Miles Avenue), it looks nicer, and you’ve got the big (College of the Desert east) campus going in just a few streets down, which is great, but, frankly, there’s a long way to go. Tell me what steps you want the city to take to get it so downtown Indio is vital again.

It’s been a work in process for several years. We began the revitalization process before the downturn in the economy, on Miles Avenue here, predominantly. … Here on Miles Avenue, we redid all of the electrical, the underground (work), the sewers, the water. We tore up the streets and created a walkable area, a well-lit area … because before you can entice business in, you have to have water; you have to have sewer. If a restaurant comes in, you have to have the ability to put in, say, a grease trap. So we put in all of the infrastructure, all of the not-pretty things, first, so we could then work on the rest of it. College of the Desert is something that’s been in the works for several years, and we’re seeing it come out of the ground.

The great thing about Indio, and about this downtown: It used to be that they called it the hub of the valley. This downtown area used to be absolutely thriving with shops and visitors and all of that stuff, and then, as things changed, and the world changed, it continued to deteriorate. … People have a perception that the area’s rough. There’s not an issue with (violent) crime. There’s theft; there are theft issues, sure, but there are theft issues everywhere, particularly now with the downturn in the economy. … We work day and night here; we always have at this store. That’s what small businesses do. We saw the fact that this was a safe place; it had just fallen into disrepair, and I when (my husband) Doug and I look at something that’s in disrepair, we think: “Ah ha! Potential. We can fix it up.”

Concrete steps: How is downtown/old town Indio going to become a place that’s vital again?

It starts with College of the Desert and the fact that there will be 3,000 students at peak enrollment in the downtown area. You need people here, day and night, in order to make an area successful, because that’s what will drive retail and restaurants and the housing component. … (On May 15), the council approved moving forward with mixed use, so there will be restaurants and retail on the bottom, and living (spaces) on top.


Right across the street from the College of the Desert, there’s an empty lot. … The new detention center’s coming up; the new county administration center is also coming up, so in the next three years, there will probably be an additional 5,000 people in the downtown area. … Both (the detention center and the county administration building already) exist on a smaller scale; both are going to be torn down and rebuilt on a much larger scale. … There will be a captive audience here.

If it were up to you, would downtown Indio become like El Paseo or downtown Palm Springs is, in the sense that they are draws for tourists and people from elsewhere in the valley alike? Or are you content with Indio being a hub mainly for people who live in the east valley?

The vision for downtown/old town Indio is that it’ll be a combination of both. There will be specialty retail and restaurants. … When you think of the number of people who come into the desert, from Canada and tourists, it will be a draw for them. As it stands now, there are (already) some eclectic and unique stores. But also, with the college and the people who live here, there will be services, so people from the east end of the valley will come here, because there is something specific here that they need. So it will satisfy both as it evolves.

There’s going to be a law school here. Ultimately, my vision is: We have the (Indio) Performing Arts Center; we have the CV Art Center. … The (Coachella Valley History) Museum is just a block away. So, if you will, it’s arts, culture and entertainment, and you’ve got that educational base. So you have people moving here, and you’ll have things to do, places to go and places to eat. That’s ultimately where I want it to be.

How does the state dissolving all of the redevelopment districts affect Indio? Did it hurt the efforts badly?

It did. It threw us a curveball, there’s no doubt about it, because the city amassed quite a bit of this property several years ago, so we could bundle or package it to developers, and they could have a large area. When the state took that over, it all came to a screeching halt. There are challenges with it. Right now, we’re trying to deal with the state of California in terms of leasing some of the building space, and looking at disposition agreements in terms of how we go about selling (the property) to specific organizations or developers for future development. It slowed things down in terms of the forward momentum.

Let’s get a past downtown for a bit and talk about the big festivals. First of all, does it annoy you that everyone calls (Goldenvoice’s biggest festival) Coachella, when it actually takes place in Indio?

You know what? It’s all part of the vibe. It would be great to have Indio in the name, but … I think most people know that the festivals are in Indio.

There was a move last year by a fellow City Council member (Ascencion “Sam” Torres) to add a large tax to Coachella tickets. That got shot down, and you were opposed to it. Since then, Goldenvoice has signed a new agreement to stay in Indio (through at least 2030, and to possibly add two more festival weeks, perhaps in the fall). What are your goals, from the city’s standpoint, in terms of the festivals—bringing people here, what Goldenvoice does, etc.?

First of all, Goldenvoice does an enormous amount with the city, particularly with the kids. I think people see the concerts, and that’s what they associate with Goldenvoice, but what we see of Goldenvoice are people who really spend a lot of time and money focused on the community. We had the (remote area medical) health thing at the fairgrounds just before the concerts. They play soccer with the kids; they support the teen center, the Boys and Girls Club, so they’re already engaged in the community, and we want them to continue with that engagement, and to an extent, become even more engaged.

People come from all over the world; that is so neat, and I want, from a business perspective, for all the businesses in the community to reap the benefits of those tourists who are in town. … I also want the world to see the city, and some people are going to move here, and to have people from different cultures, and different parts of the country and world, to move here, to me, adds more to the eclectic flavor of the city that Indio is.

How do you get the word out to the festival-goers that, “Hey, you should actually stop and look at what’s going on in Indio?”

At (the May 15) council meeting, we put together an ad-hoc committee—I did as the mayor—to look at how we can engage the tourists and the people who come here for the concerts to let them know about all the restaurants and great places to go in the city. So we’re going to be pulling together a committee, myself and Mayor Pro-Tem (Michael) Wilson, with some of the local businesses, to address that very issue, and to see how we can be creative to drive people to our businesses.

Would you like to see more businesses come in that could benefit from the festivals? From what I understand, Indio's first new hotel in decades, a Holiday Inn Express, is soon opening.

Absolutely. … It’s “The City of Festivals.” Let’s look at more festivals. Let’s look at something that the city does every month that draws people and tourists into our city that therefore drives retail, and drives hotels and motels. … The more people we have here on a consistent basis, the more of a need we have for the hotels, the restaurants and the retail, because they’ll be able to sustain themselves.

I want to specifically ask you about IPAC. It’s such an eclectic, work-in-progress venue, and they do some pretty cool stuff there; in what direction would you like to see IPAC move?

… There are three components: community theater; a learning environment, particularly for the kids, because music and the arts just aren’t in schools any more; and a place to hold concerts. There are so many local bands here; let’s have a venue for them to play and perform.

Regarding medical marijuana: Right now, Palm Springs is the only city in the valley that allows dispensaries, and a lot of medical-marijuana dispensaries and collectives are closing up shop (after the California Supreme Court ruled that local governments could prohibit them). If it were up to you, where would Indio fall in terms of allowing dispensaries or other medical-marijuana businesses?

It’s come before the council once, I think, a couple of years ago. I think all of us would look at what a medical-marijuana clinic would bring to the city. We’d look at it on a case-by-case basis and decide if that was something that would be a benefit to the city and to the residents of the city. What decision would be, I don’t know. I know that the council is pretty open-minded or is very good at taking each item that comes to us on a case-by-case basis and asking the questions … to determine if it’s something we want in our city, whether it’s medical marijuana or a business.

The story that we did for our first print-version cover story was on growth. We got some numbers from the Southern California Association of Governments that showed Indio, Coachella and especially the nearby unincorporated areas were going to see the bulk of the growth in the valley between now and 2035. With that growth comes challenges: Indio’s going to have to deal with infrastructure, new roadways, and so on. What kind of a role is the Indio City Council taking for Indio to prepare to be a city of more than 110,000 people by 2035?

We’re updating our general plan, first of all. We always look at infrastructure improvements, and we do infrastructure improvements every year, whether it’s to our roads, or whether (it involves water)—we have the Indio Water Authority, our own water agency—and we are constantly upgrading that in terms of water storage and our ability to deliver water to our residents and businesses. (Growth is) something that’s forefront in our minds all of the time. Our city has grown, for the last 15 years or so, and continues to grow, so we have to be ready for that, and we’re constantly looking at: Where do we need to make changes? Where do we need to upgrade? That’s always top of mind. …

The east end of the valley has the highest number of youth here, so the need for services and the environment for these young people to be entertained or to eat or to hang out is critical. (We need) parks. My dream would be an aquatic center—something that was envisioned several years ago, and the economy kind of took that away from us. … That’s the future … the kids. That ties in to education and the whole economic engine, to have the jobs here for these kids to go to.

One of the things I really miss in terms of living in the Coachella Valley is a full-fledged four-year university here …

It’s coming.

It’s coming? Tell me about it.

I want to defer to Jan Harnik, the mayor of Palm Desert, but what drives that is a student population to go to these schools, and therefore, when they come out of school, the ability to find jobs and careers. … As the population grows … it’s a cycle. That’s how it works. As the desert is growing, so is the need for a university.

This is your first foray into elected office. Are you content to stay on the Indio City Council …


… Or might you have bigger plans down the line?

No. I am all about being involved with the city. The reason I got on the City Council, as I said, is to be an advocate for small business. I like the city; I like being an advocate; I like being a part of the growth. And that’s the beginning, the middle and the end of my political career.

Friday, 17 May 2013 15:30

The Lucky 13: DJ Aimlo

You know where Anthony “A.J.” Araiza, aka DJ Aimlo, will be every third Saturday (including Saturday, May 18): Along with Pawn, he’ll be DJ’ing at Bar, 340 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. DJ Aimlo, 28, works as a mail carrier, and now lives in La Quinta; he’s been a CV resident all his life, and grew up in Indio. Things kick off at Bar at 10 p.m., and there’s no cover. To learn more about DJ Aimlo, visit, where you can find links to his Soundcloud, Facebook and other WWW pages; for more on Bar, visit

What was the first concert you attended?

It was in 1991 at the Palm Springs Convention Center. MC Hammer was the headliner, and Boyz 2 Men and TLC were the openers. I was 6.

What was the first album you owned?

Dr. Dre's The Chronic. Looking back, I was probably a little too young to own that album at the time.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Right now, I'm really into Toro Y Moi, Disclosure, Tame Impala, Rhye, Danny Brown, and a lot of bass-driven electronic dance music.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

I really don't get what all the kids are raving about today—e.g. Swedish House Mafia, David Guetta, Avicii, Steve Aoki. I love electronic dance music, but some of the more popular stuff, I just can't get into.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

It would have to be Portishead. I saw them once before at Coachella and was so blown away that I would love to see them again.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Female British pop. I really love AlunaGeorge, Amy Winehouse, and Lily Allen. There’s a quirkiness to their writing that I don't hear much of here in the States that I love.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Locally, I would say the Date Shed. They have an awesome sound system. Otherwise, I (liked the now-defunct) Knitting Factory in Los Angeles. I don't go to many shows, to be honest.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

The first thing that comes to mind is "Can't Get You Out of My Head" by Kylie Minogue. But seriously, I always have the theme song from The Andy Griffith Show in my head. Not exactly lyrics, but I can't stop whistling at work.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

DJ Shadow. Prior to hearing Endtroducing, I really didn't put any thought into how the music I was listening to at the time was made. When I found out that album was made entirely with samples of old records, it blew my mind. It completely changed the way I listened to music. At the time, I was really into hip hop, downtempo, acid-jazz, drum-and-bass, and house, which was all sample-based music. I didn't really think about how the music was made. After hearing and learning how Endtroducing was made, I had to have a sampler and turntables.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

Michael Jackson: "Michael, did you, or did you not …?"

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Santo and Johnny, "Sleep Walk." It gives me chills every time I hear it.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Avalanches, Since I Left You. It was made using more than 3,000 samples and is absolutely genius, in my opinion.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Jai Paul, "Jasmine." (Scroll down to hear it.)