CVIndependent

Fri12062019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

It was late in the afternoon on Saturday, March 17. I was in San Francisco for a fantastic LGBT business conference, which had just wrapped up. My husband, Garrett—who spends most of his time in San Francisco due to work—and I had decided to take in a movie, and then get some Chinese food afterward, before I headed back to Palm Springs the next morning.

We were hurrying to the 4:30 p.m. showing of Love, Simon, at the Metreon. We were crossing Fourth Street, rushing to get across before the light changed. That’s when I stepped in a small rut in the road, lost my balance and tried to catch myself.

I failed.

I put out my arms to brace myself, and then took a literal tumble toward the sidewalk, coming to a stop just short of the gutter. As I started to get up, Garrett asked me if I was OK. That was when I realized my left forearm was pointing in the wrong direction.

“I don’t think so,” I said.

After Garrett and some passers-by helped me onto a bench, Garrett called 911, as I cradled my left arm with my right. After an excruciatingly long wait—toward the end of it, Garrett actually ordered a Lyft, fearing an ambulance would never come—paramedics finally arrived. I was loaded into the ambulance and taken to Saint Francis Memorial Hospital.

Fortunately, I have good insurance, and I received good care. After X-rays—the most painful experience I’ve ever endured—I was diagnosed with a left elbow dislocation. (Such dislocations are rare, apparently; normally, the bones just break.) After a procedure to put my arm back in place—during which, thankfully, I was anesthetized—my arm was placed in a splint and sling, and I was sent on my way.

I mention all of this, because this occurred just before we began production on the April print issue—our annual Music Issue, one of our biggest editorial issues of the year.

Last week, I edited and designed the bulk of the issue with just one arm. It was not easy. However, we were able to get it done for two reasons: First, I am blessed with an amazing group of friends, family members, coworkers and teammates, who constantly reached out to make sure I was OK. Thanks to all of you; you know who you are.

Second … there was no way in hell I was going to allow the issue to be curtailed or delayed in anyway—because it’s a damn good issue.

I must tip my figurative hat (with my right arm, of course) to Brian Blueskye, who not only churned out his usual impressive collection of great music interviews and stories; he also penned a terrific news story, about the businesses affected by a March 7 fire on Arenas Road in downtown Palm Springs.

I could go on and on … but instead, I’ll let you go check out all of the great stuff from the issue—much of which has already been posted, and the rest of which will be posted in the coming days.

As always, thanks for reading the Coachella Valley Independent. Contact me with any questions or comments, and be sure to pick up the April 2018 print edition, hitting the streets this week.

Published in Editor's Note

I am writing this column on our deadline day for the February print edition—the day we need to finish the issue to transmit it to our printer—and I am writing it a little later than I anticipated.

Why? Well, earlier today, I received this message from Brian Blueskye: “I did an interview with Gary Allan, who’s playing at Fantasy Springs this weekend. About to send that over in a bit.”

That Gary Allan piece is not in the February print issue—Allan’s show will have happened well before February—but it did make it onto CVIndependent.com and into our Jan. 18 weekly e-Edition, after I put aside working on the print edition for a bit to edit and post Brian’s unanticipated, last-minute story.

Why am I telling you all this? I think it’s a nice anecdote that helps explain how what we do here at the Independent is different from what some other local media sources do.

First, it says a lot about Brian Blueskye that he’d take the time to do the last-minute story. He didn’t need to do it; I didn’t expect him to do it; and he did not get paid anything extra to do it. He did it simply because he thought it’d make the Independent better, and therefore serve our readers better.

Second, it illustrates the fact that we don’t run press releases. Many other local media sources will simply slap a news release—with little to no editing, and certainly no reporting—onto their pages. While news releases may contain valuable information, they’re not journalism.

And here at the Coachella Valley Independent, we do journalism.

In recent weeks, we’ve done some fine journalism, if I do say so myself. Our February print edition, as is the case with most of our February issues, is a bit slanted toward the arts. In it, and here at CVIndependent.com, you’ll find everything from an extended interview with one of the Arts Palm Springs’ Artists of the Year, to a fine piece on the one-year anniversary of Palm Desert’s CREATE Center for the Arts. And in our music section—on consecutive pages in the print edition—we have interviews with Jesika von Rabbit and Engelbert Humperdinck. That has to be a newspaper first, I’d think.

Of course, we’ve been producing great columns and news stories, too.

As always, thanks for reading. Be sure to pick up the February 2018 print edition of the Coachella Valley Independent, on newsstands now, and feel free to contact me should you have any questions or comments.

Published in Editor's Note

The turn of the calendar from 2017 to 2018 Coachella Valley Independent means we’re kicking off our sixth year of honest, ethical local journalism ’round these parts.

Our first five years have been incredible in many ways. While the Independent has its imperfections and limitations—as do all publications—it has become a part of the fiber of the Coachella Valley, through (so far) 54 print editions and more than 4,200 stories posted here at CVIndependent.com. We’ve won two national journalism awards, honored hundreds of businesses and organizations via four Best of Coachella Valley readers’ polls, and raised many thousands of dollars for local causes through benefit concerts and Palm Springs Craft Cocktail Week—which, by the way, is celebrating its second edition come January 19-27. (See more info at PSCraftCocktails.com or in the January print edition.)

However … as a member of the media, these five years have been incredibly difficult.

If you’d have told me when we launched the Independent that we’d be soldiering on after the closures of the San Francisco Bay Guardian, The Boston Phoenix, the Baltimore City Paper, the Philadelphia City Paper, Las Vegas CityLife and several other venerable alternative newspapers, I’d be stunned. If you’d have told me back then we’d still be publishing a successful print edition after The Village Voice and the Houston Press went online-only, I’d be shocked. If you told me in late 2012/early 2013 the Independent would enter 2018 with a future more secure than that of the LA Weekly, the OC Weekly, the Washington City Paper and the Nashville Scene, I’d probably cry.

And if you’d have told me I’d be publishing a newspaper at a time when the president of the United States actually referred to the media as the enemy of the American people, I’d tell you that was simply not possible.

Yet as we begin 2018, this is where we are.

I say all of this to make a plea I’ve made many times before in this space: Please, please support honest, ethical local media, here and wherever else you may go. We need reader and advertiser support (plus readers supporting our advertisers) now more than ever if we’re going to continue to shine a mirror on our local communities. Please. As for us here at the Independent, find more information at CVIndependent.com/Supporters.

With that exhortation, I thank you for reading, as always. See you at one of our fantastic Cocktail Week venues later in January—and be sure to pick up the January print edition, hitting newsstands this week.

Published in Editor's Note

As you probably know by now, the results of our fourth annual Best of Coachella Valley readers’ poll were released earlier this week.

This marks the culmination of a process that started back in August, when Round One voting began. We asked you, our readers, to tell us what your area favorites are, via an open ballot—with no pre-selected finalists or recommendations. We compiled all of those results to determine the slate of Best of Coachella Valley finalists, and then launched the Final Round of voting.

I’d like to thank Brian Blueskye, Mark Duebner and Robyn Tanzer, all of whom put a lot of work into the corresponding December print edition—and all of us at the Independent would like to thank you, the readers, for taking the time to vote in the Best of Coachella Valley.

Other local publications also do “Best Of” readers’ polls … but these Best of Coachella Valley results, while certainly far from perfect, offer a truer sense of what is really the best of the Coachella Valley. Why? We ask readers to vote only once per round—as opposed to some of these other publications’ polls, which encourage readers to vote multiple times. While allowing people to vote multiple times brings those publications’ websites more traffic, it also makes those polls more susceptible to skewed results. We here at the Independent would rather have a truer, more accurate slate of winners and finalists than a temporary bump in website traffic.

I hope you’ll joinus at The Hood Bar and Pizza (the Best Dive Bar winner!), at 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert, on Friday, Dec. 15, for annual Best of Coachella Valley Awards Show and Party. We’ll start the awards at 6:30 p.m. sharp; all of the winners who are there will be invited up to accept their awards and say a few words. After the awards, your pick for Best Local Band, The Flusters, will take the stage. The Hood and the Independent will then continue the great music, with sets from Black Water Gospel, Sunday Funeral and Herbert. It’ll truly be a great night as we gather to celebrate the best the Coachella Valley has to offer.

As always, thanks for reading; if you have any comments or questions, don’t hesitate to send me a note to the email address below. Oh, and be sure to pick up our December 2017 print edition, being distributed this week to more than 380 locations valley-wide.

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

Let me tell you a little story that illustrates how what we do here at the Independent is different from what most other valley publications do.

At first glance, nothing seems too complex or crazy about “Turnout Turmoil,” Brian Blueskye’s recent political story (which serves as the cover story for our October 2017 print edition). Essentially, it’s an 1,100-word story about a recent change in state law regarding when cities and other local governments have their elections, and how local cities are dealing with this new law.

Simple, right? Actually, it’s not simple at all.

The story behind the story: Brian worked on this piece, off and on, for six weeks. This was initially slated to be last month’s cover story, but we shelved it because, after two weeks of work (again, off and on), we were still figuring things out.

Turns out we weren’t, and aren’t, the only ones still figuring things out. The law, signed into effect by Gov. Jerry Brown two years ago, mandates this: If local governments don’t hold their elections on the same dates as statewide/federal elections, and they have been seeing a significantly lower turnout than statewide/federal elections, they have to move their elections to the same dates as those statewide/federal elections.

Unfortunately, the language in this new law is confusing as hell. This has left cities, school boards, water boards and other local governments around the state scratching their figurative heads as they try to determine whether or not they, in fact, have to move their election dates. Locally, three cities may or may not be affected by this new law. One has decided to move its election immediately; another has decided not to move its election for now; and the third doesn’t yet know what it is doing.

Because of all the confusion, some officials were slow to get back to Brian; others never did get back to him. Of course, Brian, too, needed to take a lot of time to figure out what the law meant (while working on everything else he had to work on, of course).

Some other publications in town are satisfied with running press releases. Yet others are content with simple, easy, space-filling pieces. (And don’t get me started on the publications that take paid advertising and present it as editorial, without disclosing that.)

Here at the Independent, we don’t do any of that. While we’re far from perfect, we do our best to make sure our reporting is fair and accurate—even if we tackle a complex issue, and it takes us six months to figure things out.

As always, thanks for reading the Independent. Don’t hesitate to contact me with feedback or questions, and be sure to pick up the October 2017 print edition, hitting streets this week.

Published in Editor's Note

It’s been an eventful month for me and the Coachella Valley Independent. Here are some notes and thoughts.

• I was fortunate enough to attend the Association of Alternative Newsmedia’s annual conference in Washington, D.C. It was a wonderful gathering of motivated independent journalists from around North America.

Make no mistake: Some (but not all) independent local newspapers are struggling. However, those of us in the industry are working on finding new ways to bring readers the news they need—and coming up with innovative ways to pay for it.

Some alternative newspapers—from Boston to Little Rock to Santa Fe to Baltimore—are starting nonprofits, opening doors to grants and other journalism-funding sources. Others are using new technologies to tell their communities’ stories in fascinating new ways. It was truly exciting to see the energy and excitement displayed by so many editors, writers and publishers.

Oh, and one more tidbit from the conference: I’d previously mentioned that the Independent was a finalist for a national Association of Alternative Newsmedia award. Well, I am elated to report that Anita Rufus’ “Know Your Neighbors” took first place in the Column category for smaller newspapers. In other words, in the eyes of contest judges, “Know Your Neighbors” is the top column in alternative newspapers with a circulation of less than 45,000 in the entire country.

• We celebrated Anita’s columns, as well as all sorts of other great work the Independent has done over the last five years, from Aug. 1-20 during our Supporters of the Independent membership drive.

I am happy to report that we received some great support during the drive—but not as much as I was anticipating. A sizable handful of readers signed up for memberships at higher levels, but few readers signed up for memberships at the smaller levels.

However, I was honored and touched by the expressions of appreciation we did receive from readers. Take, for example, the letter we received from Eva Mansell, along with a $20 check. “Hi and THANK YOU for what you all do! Wish it could be more, but I’m on a low, fixed income … but I (so) appreciate the (astronomy column), the local issues/politics and articles.”

Thank you, Eva. That letter made my month.

It’s not too late to join Eva in supporting the Independent. Visit CVIndependent.com/Supporters, or write us at the address at the top left.

• Season is almost here … so that means the Best of Coachella Valley readers’ poll is here, too! First-round voting in some 130-plus categories is now under way; click here to vote! This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with questions!

As always, thanks for reading. Also, keep your eyes open for the September 2017 print edition of the Independent, hitting the streets of the Coachella Valley in 380-plus locations this week!

Published in Editor's Note

Let’s face it: August is not the best month for business in the Coachella Valley.

If there’s onetime during the year that a restaurant will be closed, it’s probably going to be in August. August is the most popular month for us locals to take vacations—in part because the weather is scorching, and it’s already been scorching for several months, and we’re tired of it.

However, most of us are still here in August. Therefore, news and arts and foodie stuff still happens—and that’s why those of us here at the Independent don’t take the month off, and instead keep working as hard as we always do.

Still … August is not the best month for business in the Coachella Valley, and that goes for us here at the Independent, too. That’s why we have decided to hold our first-ever Supporters of the Independent membership drive this month—and while doing so, we’re going to celebrate some of the great journalism the Independent has done in our almost five years of existence.

From today through Aug. 20, we’ll highlight a story from our archives on our social-media platforms each day. Today's piece is the first-ever print edition cover story in the Coachella Valley Independent: "Coachella Valley 2035: Our Region Is Becoming Older, More Latino and a Lot More Crowded," published on March 29, 2013, and the cover story in the April 2013 issue. This piece analyzed local growth projections and talked about the future our valley faces—including serious problems and challenges.

To help us continue doing great stories like this, we are asking you to join our Supporters of the Independent program.

Our content is offered free to all, both in print and online—and it always will be. We don’t have pay walls, and we don’t sell subscriptions. However, a Supporters of the Independent membership gives readers a chance to contribute directly to the Independent and our mission statement: “The Coachella Valley Independent is the valley’s source of independent news, arts coverage, commentary and culture. We believe in true, honest journalism: We want to afflict the comfortable, and comfort the afflicted. We want to be a mirror for the entire Coachella Valley. We want to inform, enlighten and entertain. We will never let advertisers determine what we cover, and how we cover things. In other words, we will always tell it how we see it. For example: Some other publications in this valley do puff-piece reviews or feature stories on advertisers to make said advertisers happy. We will never, ever do that. If we lose an advertiser due to an unflattering story, a negative review or something else, so be it.”

I hope you’ll consider joining our Supporters of the Independent program; you can join for as little as $10, and all members get cool perks. For more information, visit CVIndependent.com/supporters.

Also: Please pick up the August 2017 print edition of the Coachella Valley Independent, now in 380-plus locations across the valley. As always, thanks for reading.

Published in Editor's Note

It’s a question I often get asked by people who are unfamiliar with the Coachella Valley Independent: “What sets your newspaper apart from the other local publications out there?”

After briefly mentioning the history of the alternative press (and explaining how the Independent fits into that history), I answer by suggesting what I call, somewhat jokingly, the “Independent Challenge”: “Take five minutes, and thumb through the Independent. Look at the articles, the design, the breadth of coverage, and the quality of the reporting and writing. Then, do the same with any other local publication. You’ll understand the difference right away.”

Yes, I am proud of what we accomplish every day at CVIndependent.com—and I am also proud to announce that for the second time, the Independent is receiving a national journalism award.

The Independent has been named a finalist in the 2017 Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN) Awards, this time in the Column category. Anita Rufus’ “Know Your Neighbors” is one of three finalists in the category for publications with a circulation of 45,000 or less. Judges were impressed by her columns on a post-election meeting of the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union; the battle against cancer being waged by the wife of a radio-station colleague; and the work by Palm Springs residents to clean up dangerous explosives and other remnants of war in Vietnam via Project RENEW.

A total of 67 publications across the United States and Canada entered the competition, and we’ll find out where we placed on July 29, during the annual AAN Conference in Washington, D.C. You can find a complete list of finalists here.

Two years ago, the Independent’s Brian Blueskye took third place in the Arts Feature category.

While there are a lot of journalism contests out there, the AAN Awards are the only one we enter here at the Independent. It’s a highly competitive contest, and all of the papers we’re competing with have larger staffs and more resources—so winning one of these awards means something.

Congrats, Anita!

Perhaps one of the stories we’ve published over the last month in the Independent will win an award one day. I’m both proud of and alarmed by the article that serves as our July cover story, about the charges being pursued by the federal government against journalist Aaron Cantu. He was covering an Inauguration Day protest that got out of hand—and because he was wearing a shirt that was the same color as the shirts of many of the protesters, he’s being prosecuted. Check it out here.

As always, thank you for reading the Independent. Take the “Independent Challenge” yourself—and email me with questions or feedback at the email address below. Also, watch for our July print edition, being distributed throughout the valley this week.

Published in Editor's Note

We are living in unprecedented times, as far as national politics is concerned.

This thought kept coming to mind as I read the latest installment of Democracy in Crisis published by the Independent. Writer Baynard Woods, simply and briefly, lays out 13 anecdotes that show how authoritarianism is on the rise in our country.

Reporters arrested. Protesters arrested. Conflicts of interest being flouted and going unchecked. Sigh.

However, there’s at least one silver lining I’m finding in all the chaos: It’s clear that great journalism is alive and well in the United States.

Some of the reporting we’ve seen from The New York Times and the Washington Post, just for starters, has been amazing. In recent weeks, these papers exposed the fact that our president apparently revealed classified information to the Russians—jeopardizing, at the very least, relationships with countries with whom we partner on intelligence. They reported that our president apparently asked our FBI director to lay off of an investigation of him—before the president would go on to fire that very FBI director.

Closer to home, the Los Angeles Times in April published an unprecedented six-part editorial series titled “Our Dishonest President,” which made the clear case that Donald Trump is unfit for office.

As always, smaller news outlets are doing great work, too. Take Democracy in Crisis as an example; it’s a joint project of alternative papers around the country, including the Coachella Valley Independent.

While it’s inspiring and amazing to see all of this great journalism, it’s important to point out that these aforementioned newspapers are operating with a fraction of the resources they had, say, 10 or 15 years ago.

That’s why it’s vital that you support great journalism: Buy a newspaper subscription, or two, or three. Advertise. Pay for online articles. It costs money to do well-reported, well-written, well-edited stories.

In that vein, if you like what the Independent is doing, consider throwing a few bucks our way. Both our print version and CVIndependent.com have always been and always will be free to all—but you can join our Supporters of the Independent program for just $10, or even less. Find details at CVindependent.com/supporters.

By the way, pick up the June 2017 print edition of the Coachella Valley Independent, hitting streets this week and early next week. As always, thanks for reading—and if you have thoughts or feedback, email me anytime.

Published in Editor's Note

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