CVIndependent

Sun07052020

Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

Jimmy Boegle

There is one reason, really, to go see Desert Rose Playhouse’s production of Anita Bryant Died for Your Sins: The absolutely stunning performance by Garrett Hoy as Horace Poore, a young man dealing with the realization that he’s gay in 1970s rural America.

This is not to say there aren’t other great performances in the play; in fact, the entire cast is excellent. So, too, is the direction by Jim Strait. Brian Christopher Williams’ script is compelling, despite a few flaws, and the production values are just as we’ve come to expect at Desert Rose—excellent.

But it’s the amazing work by Hoy you’ll be talking about as you leave the theater. This two-hour play is, essentially, a monologue by Hoy’s Horace Poore. He is narrating his journey as he moves from being a 7-year-old in 1969 who watches in horror as his big brother, Chaz (Alex Enriquez), flees to Canada to avoid the Vietnam War draft, to being a 15-year-old in 1977 who comes out to his family after realizing he’s gay.

The national concerns of the 1970s—that war, a recession, Watergate, the energy crisis—directly affect the Poore family and their Adirondack Mountains community. Horace’s mother, Etta (a homey, hilarious Lorraine Williamson) loses her job in a shirt-making factory due to the economy—and has a hard time finding another due to her age and a lack of a high school diploma. Horace’s gruff but loving father, Myron (a fantastic J. Stegar Thompson), is forced to deal with the sigma of having a draft-dodging son while working as his union’s president. Brother Chaz loses touch with the family until President Jimmy Carter’s pardon allows him to return from Canada. Meanwhile, the entire Poore family deals with the screams of one of their neighbors, a mentally challenged, doll-clutching middle-aged woman named Agnes (Toni Molano).

Heavy topics, yes. However, this play is surprisingly light-hearted, thanks to the charm and awkward, youthful charisma of Hoy’s Horace. While these aforementioned news events affect him, too, it’s other noteworthy happenings that cause Horace’s mind to race. First comes swimmer Mark Spitz’s domination of the 1972 Munich Olympics. Spitz’s historic accomplishments don’t necessarily enthrall Horace—but “bronze God” Spitz’s smooth, muscled body does.

“I’ve always known I was different. Now I know why,” Horace sighs.

Horace is further thrown into turmoil when he stumbles into the middle school locker room one day and spies, naked in the shower, his own, local version of Mark Spitz (and the lust that he represents): Mr. Spencer, the school’s gym teacher (Domingo Winstead). In the months and years that follow, Mr. Spencer and Horace grow close.

Several years later comes a second news event that particularly roils Horace: The emergence on the national scene of Anita Bryant, the singer, beauty queen and orange-juice spokeswoman who took it upon herself to fight an ordinance in Dade County, Fla., that banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. As any American who was alive back then knows, her “Save Our Children” campaign turned her into a prominent spokeswoman for the anti-gay movement. Her popularity rattles Horace; he can’t wait to get the newspaper each day to learn more.

Daniel Vaillancourt and Katie Pavao each play a variety of characters, generally 1970s news figures who emerge and offer visuals and narration to complement Horace’s musings. Pavao spends much of her time earning laughs and stealing scenes as Anita Bryant. (Despite the name of the play, Anita Bryant is still alive, by the way, although her career is certainly dead.)

Williamson and Thompson are fantastic as Horace’s parents. They create nuanced characters who are alternately hilarious, loving and troubled. The two also have great chemistry together; one of the show’s best scenes occurs when an angry Etta confronts Myron after he’s fired from his job. By the end of the scene, the tables are turned: Etta is comforting and consoling Myron. Great stuff.

This play’s problems, minor though they may be, largely involve the chronology and how it’s telegraphed. The play starts with a broadcast of the 1977 World Series, and then suddenly shifts back eight years, to 1969. However, there weren’t enough verbal and visual cues to clearly illustrate this shift right way, and I was left for several minutes wondering what had happened. (A major typo in the program—it lists the play’s timing as “October 1977 and eight years proceeding,” rather than preceding—contributed to my confusion.)

Also: Perhaps I missed something, but it seemed like Horace first glimpsed Mr. Spencer in the junior-high locker-room shortly after Horace’s 1972 Mark Spitz infatuation. However, it wasn’t until Bryant’s emergence on the national scene in 1977 that Horace began talking about soon entering high school. That would mean Horace spent five years in junior high. Huh?

Whatever. Timing confusion is not the point here: The point is that Anita Bryant Died for Your Sins is fantastic because Garrett Hoy is so fantastic. His Horace seems so darned real. We’ve all seen child actors before who, because they are taught to E-NUN-CI-ATE! by their acting teachers, come out onstage and speak like seasoned politicians. Hoy, however, doesn’t always enunciate his words all that well. In fact, at times, he seems to ramble—yet he’s always understandable. In other words, he talks like a 15-year-old. Perfect.

I was also blown away by Hoy’s command of the script. This role would be difficult for a seasoned, veteran performer, as Anita Bryant Died for Your Sins is essentially a two-hour monologue by Horace, with some breaks here and there. Only once during the entire show did I sense that Hoy was having difficulty (and that moment lasted maybe two seconds, total). Brilliant work.

After the show, which concluded with a standing ovation for Hoy, director Jim Strait told me this is the first nonmusical role for Hoy ever. The folks at Desert Rose, the valley’s LGBT and LGBT-friendly theater company, knew Hoy thanks to his role in the company’s performance of Falsettos in Concert two years ago. They were left so impressed, Strait said, that they checked to make sure Hoy was available to play Horace before the company added the play to the schedule as the 2014-2015 season-opener.

“Not bad for a 15-year-old,” I told Strait, grossly understating things

“Actually, Garrett’s still 14,” Strait said.

Wow. Go see Anita Bryant Died for Your Sins, and enjoy one of the best performances you’re likely to see on a Coachella Valley stage this season.

Desert Rose Playhouse’s Anita Bryant Died for Your Sins is performed at 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday; and 2 p.m., Sunday, through Sunday, Oct. 19, at 69260 Highway 111, in Rancho Mirage. Tickets are $28 to $30. For tickets or more information, call 760-202-3000, or visit www.desertroseplayhouse.org.

What: The Desert Jewel

Where: Citron, inside the Viceroy Palm Springs, 415 S. Belardo Road, Palm Springs

How much: $14

Contact: 760-318-3005; www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/en/palmsprings

Why: It’s a perfect craft cocktail.

Regular readers of this feature know that your humble scribe likes—no, loves—a good craft cocktail.

Regular readers between the lines of this feature know that your humble scribe is pretty frustrated at the relative dearth of great craft cocktails in this valley.

Thankfully, more and more bars and restaurants are moving beyond Cape Cods and Jack-and-Cokes—and Citron at the Viceroy is undeniably one of the leaders of our valley’s emerging craft-cocktail scene.

Consider the Desert Jewel, Citron’s signature drink. The ingredient list: Absolut Mandarin, Aperol, grapefruit juice, lemon juice and Veuve champagne.

Great ingredients, yes, but the result of their combination is, as the saying goes, greater than the sum of the parts. The Desert Jewel is sweet, but subtly so. It’s citrusy, but not acidic. None of the ingredients overwhelm—which was a concern I had after reading the menu, because grapefruit tends to dominate. The cocktail is simply a refreshing, flavorful, slightly savory delight.

Of course, there’s a downside to craft cocktails at places like the Viceroy: They tend to be expensive, and this $14 drink is not an exception to that rule. One way to lessen the financial blow is to head to Citron’s oddly lit bar during Happy Hour—that’s 4:30 to 7 p.m., Sunday through Thursday—when some nice appetizers (including a revelatory watermelon gazpacho) and great cocktails can be had for just $6 each.

Sadly, the Desert Jewel is not one of those $6 cocktails. However, I’d take one $14 Desert Jewel over two $7 Cape Cods anytime. Life’s just too short for crappy cocktails. 

After the McCallum Theatre announced the addition of more than a dozen shows to the 2014-2015 season, I asked Mitch Gershenfeld—the McCallum’s president, CEO and chief booker—if he was done adding to the lineup.

“There may be one or two more things,” he said. “We may have one or two surprises up our sleeves, but the calendar’s getting pretty full.”

He’s not kidding: In February, for example, the McCallum is booked for 24 of the month’s 28 days. In March, only six days are open. The packed schedule is one reason why the Palm Desert venue is usually the top-selling theater in California—and one of the top-selling theaters in the world—each spring, according to Pollstar magazine.

Another reason: the quality and variety of the shows at the McCallum. Highlights of the new additions to the schedule include Ray LaMontagne, on Tuesday, Oct. 21; Vince Gill and the Time Jumpers, on Monday, Nov. 10; country music legend Willie Nelson and Family, on Wednesday, Jan. 7; comedy great Jay Leno, on Saturday, Jan. 24; and “American Pie” legend Don McLean on Tuesday, March 17.

When asked which of the new additions about which he was particularly excited, Gershenfeld mentioned Jay Leno, the former Tonight Show host.

“That should be a lot of fun. We’ve never worked with him before,” Gershenfeld said of Leno.

Not many comics are a good fit for a mid-size venue like the McCallum, Gershenfeld noted, although he said he’s happy with the McCallum’s comedy lineup this season, which includes a newly announced stop by the Last Comic Standing tour (Sunday, Nov. 23), and a previously announced show by the legendary Bob Newhart (Friday, Feb. 20).

Gershenfeld also said he was looking forward to the performance by music great Ray LaMontagne. He will play just two days after the McCallum’s new season officially kicks off with the theater’s third-annual Family Fun day.

“He usually plays much larger rooms,” Gershenfeld said about the Grammy-winning singer. “… Everything aligned the right way (for him to perform at the McCallum).”

Gershenfeld also mentioned newly booked shows by two country greats: Willie Nelson, and Vince Gill and the Time Jumpers.

“Willie likes to play the McCallum,” Gershenfeld said. “We’re really happy we can bring him back.”

As for Vince Gill’s show, it’s the inclusion of the Time Jumpers that will make that performance truly special, Gershenfeld said.

“In country music, there are a lot of musicians who reside in Nashville, and do nothing but record,” he explained. “They’re incredible studio musicians—and that’s who the Time Jumpers are. They tour very rarely.”

Gershenfeld said he’s pleased with the “tremendous amount of variety” in the theater’s season, from the singers to the comedians to the Broadway shows, such as Nice Work If You Can Get It, which will stop at the McCallum for five shows March 13-15. The musical comedy, with music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin, wrapped up more than a year on Broadway in June 2013, and just began the national tour that will eventually bring it to the McCallum.

“It’s the best Gershwin musical to come to Broadway in perhaps 30 years,” he said.

Individual tickets for all shows during the McCallum Theatre’s 2014-2015 season went on sale on Tuesday, Sept. 16. For tickets, more information and a complete schedule of shows, visit www.mccallumtheatre.com.

What: Bennie’s Bennie

Where: Wilma and Frieda’s, 73575 El Paseo Drive, No. C2310, Palm Desert

How much: $14

Contact: 760-773-2807; www.wilmafrieda.com

Why: The pork and the perfect balance.

Over the last couple of years, creative types ranging from musicians to comedians to publishers have used crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter to turn their figurative dreams into reality.

Restaurateurs have done so as well. These fundraising efforts don’t always succeed—on a local level, Cello’s Bistro and Dish Creative Cuisine recently saw Kickstarter efforts come up short—but when they do, they can lead to great things—such as Wilma and Frieda’s, a delightful breakfast/brunch/lunch joint located in the Gardens on El Paseo shopping center.

In the summer of 2013, the owners of Wilma and Frieda’s successfully raised more than $50,000 to help them open the restaurant. And what a restaurant it is—the fare is both innovative and delicious, and Wilma and Frieda’s somehow manages to have a homey feel while not feeling out of place on ritzy El Paseo.

That’s not to say all is perfect at Wilma and Frieda’s—on a recent weekend visit, for example, the host managed to underestimate our wait time for a table by nearly a half-hour, a cardinal sin in the restaurant business. Also, the prices are decidedly El Paseo-appropriate (i.e., a bit high). However, once you dig in to a tasty treat like the Benny’s Bennie, all faults will be forgiven.

Yes, you’ve had eggs Benedict before. But have you had eggs Benedict on freshly made, house-made biscuits that are fluffy on the inside, and crunchy/crumbly on the outside? Have you had eggs Benedict with thick pieces of high-quality Duroc pork, rather than ho-hum Canadian bacon? Have you had eggs Benedict with a hollandaise sauce that neither fades behind the saltiness of the pork, nor overwhelms with salt or some cloying flavor like too much lemon—but instead, complements the meat and the biscuit?

If the answer to these questions is, “Why yes, I have, thank you,” then tell me where you’re eating, please. If the answer is no, and it probably is no, a trip to Wilma and Frieda’s for the Benny’s Bennie is highly recommended. 

Voting in the Coachella Valley Independent’s Best of Coachella Valley has begun! Find the ballot here, including rules, dates and a complete list of categories.

I am intimately familiar with “Best Ofs”; I ran them or helped run them in newspapers in Reno, Las Vegas and Tucson before I moved here to launch the Independent. I’ll be completely honest with y’all: I have mixed feelings about contests such as these.

On one hand, “Best Ofs” are mere popularity contests, and what’s most popular is not always what’s best. (For example, Taco Bell is popular, but only someone with mental damage would claim that Taco Bell’s food is truly great. In every “Best Of” contest I have ever done, Taco Bell gets some votes in the Best Mexican Food category. Ick.)

On the other hand, “Best Ofs” themselves are popular: Readers and worthy businesses alike enjoy properly done “Best Ofs,” because they help spread the word about some of the community’s best businesses, places and organizations. Any time I travel to an unfamiliar city, I use the “Best Of” from that city’s alternative newspaper to help me pick where to go and what do to.

As I mentioned previously, our Best of Coachella Valley will indeed be properly done. Advertisers will have no say over who wins our readers’ picks, nor will the Independent staff: It’s the votes of you, our readers, who will decide the winners and finalists, period. (The staff will throw in some of our own picks—but they will be clearly marked as “Staff Picks” and will not in any way conflict with what readers choose.)

We’ll also do our best to make sure the contest is fair. We’re allowing readers to vote only once in each round, and we’re requiring that readers include a real email address with the ballot. We’re watching IP addresses, too, in an effort to eliminate as much ballot-box stuffing as we can.

Of course, this is our first Best of Coachella Valley, so there will be obstacles that arise. As always, if you or anyone else has questions about Best of Coachella Valley (or anything else related to the Independent, for that matter), my figurative door is always open: Call me at 760-904-4208, or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Thanks in advance for voting in the Best of Coachella Valley!

In January 2013, Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock spoke at a TEDx event in the London area.

Both of these speakers are familiar with controversy, thanks to their criticisms of modern science and their outside-of-the-mainstream ideas about consciousness. However, these talks would catapult them into a whole new level of controversy: Their lectures—Sheldrake’s was titled “The Science Delusion,” and Hancock’s was called “The War on Consciousness”—were later removed from the main TED website, due to the speakers’ “questionable suggestions and arguments.”

This angered a lot of the speakers’ fans, including Gary Bobroff.

“They’re challenging assumptions in the scientific world that have no merit,” said Bobroff, a Jungian psychotherapist, about Sheldrake and Hancock.

He was so angered by what he perceived as censorship that he organized Synchronicity: Matter and Psyche Symposium, a conference that will take place at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center from Friday, Sept. 12, through Sunday, Sept. 14. The keynote speakers will be none other than Sheldrake and Hancock.

“When people are starting to get banned like that, it shows that the time is right for us to be learning these kinds of things,” Bobroff said.

What are “these kinds of things”? A publicity item for the conference declares: “Ours is the era of the conscious realization of the unity of psyche and matter. Today we are embodying consciousness with ever-greater awareness, subtlety and joy. With the reunion of earth and spirit in ourselves comes the end of the illusion of our distance from the world around us. On the growing edge of our cultural awareness lies the discovery that the split between body and spirit is only ever resolved through the heart.”

I asked Bobroff to clarify. He explained that events and our “inner state” often intersect in a meaningful way.

“We’re coming to understand that the world is patterned with meaning in a way that is available to us,” he said, adding that these patterns can be objectively recognized.

A lot of what Bobroff was talking about went over my head, I’ll admit. After watching the censored TEDx talks, however, I understand things a bit better—and I am certainly skeptical about some of the things they’re saying. Still, Bobroff has a point when he mentions that so often in our lives, things seem to happen for a reason, and that things are often surprisingly interconnected.

I asked Bobroff if he picked Joshua Tree as the spot for the conference for any specific reason.

“It’s a place that has that kind of spiritual bent to it,” he said, adding that the Joshua Tree Retreat Center itself is a perfect venue for a conference of this nature.

Bobroff said that Sheldrake and Hancock aren’t the only speakers who will captivate attendees (although this is the first time since that now-infamous TEDx talk that they’ll appear at the same event, he added); for example, University of Virginia School of Medicine professor Jim Tucker will talk about his research on children who claim to remember past lives.

“I honestly think that most people who attend will come out on another level,” Bobroff said.

Synchronicity: Matter and Psyche Symposium takes place Friday, Sept. 12, through Sunday, Sept. 14, at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center, 59700 Twentynine Palms Highway, in Joshua Tree. Advance registration is $327. For more information, visit www.matterpsyche.net.

Hard Rock Replaces Sessions With Simon Kitchen + Bar

Another celebrity chef is coming to the Coachella Valley.

Simon Kitchen + Bar, a restaurant under the direction of Kerry Simon, is slated to open in mid-September at the Hard Rock, located at 150 S. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. It’s replacing Sessions, which had occupied the Hard Rock’s restaurant space since the remodeling of the former Hotel Zozo.

“Palm Springs is hot right now,” Simon said in a news release. “I’m very excited to be a part of this laid-back, hipster getaway. The menu that I’ve developed for Simon Kitchen + Bar is a little edgy, a little fun and full of contemporary takes on the comfort foods we all love.”

As for that menu: It will include “an emphasis on sharing,” with “sandwiches, entrées and stone-oven flatbreads. Social plates include tempura green beans made with pepper jelly and cream cheese; bacon jam served with baked brie and toasted baguette; and ‘devil’s eggs’ complete with crispy pancetta and caviar.”

Sounds tasty to us. Simon should be a good fit for the Hard Rock; after all, Rolling Stone once called him the “Rock ’n’ Roll Chef.”

Watch www.hrhpalmsprings.com for updates and more information.

Cactusberry Getting a Remodel and a Concept Tweak

Cactusberry, the popular frozen-yogurt shop in the Smoke Tree Village Shopping Center at 1775 E. Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, is going in a slightly new direction following a change in ownership.

Johnny Ramirez Jr. and Dale Sutherland are the new owners. After they got the keys, they closed the shop for remodeling. Ramirez tells the Independent they hope to reopen around Oct. 1.

“We are taking ‘Cactusberry Frozen Yogurt’ and expanding the brand, but keeping the same great tastes, as well as adding new items like gelato and frozen custard,” Ramirez said via email. “Our new name in honor of this expansion is ‘Cactusberry+ Frozen Treats.’ We hope to become the Coachella Valley’s go-to shop for frozen treats and drinks!”

Watch Cactusberry’s website (cactusberryplusps.com) and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/CactusberryPlus) for updates and more information.

TRIO, Purple Room Shaking Things Up Just a Bit

Trio and the Purple Room, the popular restaurants in Palm Springs owned by Tony Marchese and Mark Van Laanen, are both going through some minor yet welcome changes.

At TRIO, located at 707 N. Palm Canyon Drive, executive chef Van Laanen recently introduced weekly specials to complement the tried-and-true menu. Every week, TRIO is offering an all-day drink special and three new dinner dishes.

“We love pairing fresh ingredients with distinctive flavors, and we are thrilled to cook up these new specials,” Van Laanen said in a news release.

For example, the specials ending the week of Sept. 4 are seared Cajun ahi tuna and carrot cucumber slaw with pickled ginger wasabi; a USDA New York strip steak with caramelized onions and sautéed wild mushrooms; and pan-roasted barramundi with mango pico de gallo and sweet saffron butter sauce. The drink special is the “TRIO Fizz,” featuring muddled orange, Absolut Mandarin, orange juice, lemon juice and soda.

Watch www.triopalmsprings.com for a list of specials throughout September.

Meanwhile, the Purple Room, inside Club Trinidad at 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, was slated to reopen after a month off on Thursday, Aug. 28. The slightly rebranded Purple Room Restaurant and Stage also has a new chef and a new menu; a “peek” was posted on the Purple Room Facebook page shortly before the Independent’s press deadline. The new menu includes a wide variety of modern cuisine, ranging from a Brussels sprout salad as a starter ($10) to filet Oscar ($36) and chicken paillards ($23) as main courses.

Head over to www.facebook.com/purpleroomrestaurantstage to get gobs more information on the Purple Room, including a list of upcoming shows.

In Brief

After a seemingly endless construction period, Pho Vu is finally open at 285 S. Palm Canyon Drive in downtown Palm Springs. … The transformation is complete: The former Chop House Palm Desert has been converted into the Kaiser Grille Palm Desert. The moderately priced restaurant at 74040 Highway 111 is now open. … Tell your beer-loving friends in Arizona that offerings from Coachella Valley Brewing Company will soon be available there, thanks to a distribution deal with Young’s Market Company. … The Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club, which opened in June with the first 2014 Splash House, closed with the second 2014 Splash House in August. However, management says the closure is only temporary, and that the Hacienda will reopen on Friday, Sept. 26. … The Bootlegger Tiki bar is slated to soon debut at 140 W. Via Lola, Suite 1101, in the back of the building occupied by Ernest Coffee. … Stuft Pizza Bar and Grill, which has been a La Quinta staple for almost a decade, recently opened a second location in the Westfield Palm Desert at 72840 Highway 111. Get more info at www.stuftpizzabarandgrill.com.

What: The Dragon Roll with the all-you-can-eat sushi at Dragon Sushi

Where: Dragon Sushi, 68369 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Cathedral City; also at 82451 Highway 111, No. 103, Indio

How much: $22.99 for lunch; $27.99 for dinner

Contact: (760) 321-5935; www.facebook.com/pages/Dragon-sushi/194086770616660

Why: A variety of flavors and textures for one fair price.

Nevada may just be the all-you-can-eat (AYCE) sushi capital of the world.

Several recent newspaper articles have confirmed that the cities of Reno and Las Vegas are havens for AYCE sushi; in fact, one of those stories speculated that every sushi joint in Reno offers an AYCE option. These stories throw out a variety of speculative reasons for this, ranging from the need for sushi restaurants to compete with the ample number of all-you-can-eat buffets, to a desire for sushi by cash-strapped college students (and both Reno and Las Vegas are indeed college towns).

I bring this all up for one reason: I, your humble food scribe, grew up in Reno, which means my formative years were spent gobbling up nigiri and various rolls without concern for individual prices. Alas, when it comes to sushi, the Coachella Valley ain’t Reno: Many of the area’s finer sushi joints don’t offer an all-you-can-eat option, meaning that my AYCE-conditioned brain is confused and paranoid about pricing whenever I eat at one of these places.

However, an increasing number of local sushi restaurants are starting to offer AYCE options—such as the relatively new Dragon Sushi in Cathedral City. (The original Dragon Sushi location in Indio does, too.) This somewhat peculiar restaurant—it shares an entrance and space with La Tablita, a Mexican joint—offers a nice variety of appetizers, nigiri and rolls under its AYCE option. During a recent lunch, we sampled a number of goodies, and they were uniformly tasty—but our favorite was the Dragon Roll (what else would it be at a place called Dragon Sushi?), which is basically a California Roll with freshwater eel, eel sauce and crunch thrown in.

It was a great lunch—and my brain was spared confusion and paranoia. Here’s to the continuing spread of the AYCE sushi paradigm! 

What: The Blistered Shishito Peppers

Where: Appetito Cal-Italian Deli, 1700 S. Camino Real, No. 2, Palm Springs

How much: $4.95

Contact: 760-327-1929; appetitodeli.com

Why: They’re an example of delicious simplicity—with a side of adventure.

Appetito opened earlier this year in the long-vacant space in the Koffi building adjacent to the Ace Hotel, and has since been delighting foodies with its “Cal-Italian” fare, including panini, pasta dishes, pizzas and other goodies.

However, one of Appetito’s best menu items has its roots in neither Italy nor California—instead, it comes from Japan.

Shishitos are a long, thin, green pepper variety. They’re sweet, but you have to be careful when eating them: Every so often, you’ll come across a shishito that’s rather hot. So, hey: Consider eating shishitos to be an adventure!

Eating shishitos is also delight. These peppers are thin-skinned, which means they react wonderfully to heat: The skin chars, or blisters, leaving tasty goodness all around the pepper.

There’s not much to blistered shishitos—just the peppers, salt, a little oil and perhaps another flavoring agent here or there. (On our recent trip to Appetito, I kept getting hints of citrus; whether that was the pepper talking, or whether the talented folks in Appetito’s kitchen added a squeeze of juice during the cooking process, I am not sure. All I know is that it was yummy.)

Another great thing about the peppers: the price. For just $4.95, you get a whole bunch of them. They’re perfect to enjoy before the main course (say, a porchetta sandwich that’s packed with perfectly prepared roasted pork)—or on their own, perhaps paired with a negroni or something else from Appetito’s full bar.

Enjoy!

As we distribute the new print issue of the Independent this week, I can’t help but think: Wait. Isn’t August supposed to be the slow season around these parts? Geez. Things sure aren’t slow here at the Independent offices.

Here are a few things going on that you should know about:

• Mark your calendars: Voting in the Independent’s very first Best of Coachella Valley will kick off in September.

I know what you’re thinking: Does the valley really need another freaking “best of”? Our answer: Yes, the valley does need another freaking “best of,” because we’ll be doing the Best of Coachella Valley right. Here’s how:

In September, public voting will begin in 120-plus categories at CVIndependent.com and BestofCoachellaValley.com. The voting form will include no “finalists” or pre-determined candidates—each category will have a blank field next to it, period. Voters will need to fill out at least 20 of these categories; will only be allowed to vote once; and will need to provide an email address for possible verification purposes. (We will also be watching IP addresses for possible ballot-box-stuffing.)

In October, we’ll tally those results, announce five finalists in each category, and launch a second round of voting among those finalists.

The final results will be announced in our inaugural Best of Coachella Valley issue, in December. (We’ll throw in some great features and staff picks as well.)

It’s gonna be awesome! Watch for details in next month’s print issue and/or at CVIndependent.com.

• Speaking of CVIndependent.com: The Independent Market—our online store—continues to add new deals! This month, while supplies last, customers can get half-off gift certificates to Crave dessert restaurant, La Quinta Brewing Co., Lisa Harrington Pest Control and the Synchronicity: Matter and Psyche Symposium.

However, the Independent Market is now offering another cool thing: Tickets! This month, we’re selling a limited supply of tickets to two shows at the Palms Restaurant in Twentynine Palms: Rock Formations II, featuring Jello Biafra and Spindrift, on Saturday, Aug. 23; and the Bat Country Labor Day Blast With the Rikk Agnew Band, on Sunday, Aug. 31.

Head on over to CVIndependent.com to get these exclusive deals—and if you want your business included in the Independent Market, drop me a line.

• Finally, I’d like to welcome a new comic strip to the pages and pixels of the Independent. Tom Tomorrow’s “This Modern World,” a staple of the alternative press for decades, will now appear each week at CVIndependent.com, and each month in the print edition.

Welcome, Tom!

As always, folks, thanks for reading. Let me know if you have any questions or comments.