CVIndependent

Thu09192019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Darrell Tucci is the chief development officer for the Desert AIDS Project, and he spearheads D.A.P.’s annual Dining Out for Life fundraiser, taking place this year on Thursday, April 25.

“Last year, we challenged people to become part of the B.L.D. Club—to commit to having breakfast, lunch and dinner at Dining Out for Life restaurants,” Tucci said, adding that D.A.P. is issuing the same challenge this year.

I am proud to say I was part of last year’s B.L.D. Club … and then some. In fact, I went a little crazy (in a good way) last year during Dining Out for Life: I wound up dining—or, at the very least, buying a drink or a snack—at 11 different participants last year, starting with coffee and a scone at Ristretto, and ending my night with a Maker’s Mark and Coke at the Tool Shed.

A lot of people joined me in meeting D.AP.’s challenge, and then some: Due to the generosity of the 75 participating bars and restaurants, Dining Out for Life last year raised a whopping $280,000 for D.A.P.—$50,000 more than the year before.

If you’re unfamiliar with Dining Out for Life, here’s how it goes: Local bars and restaurants agree to donate at least 33 percent of their sales on Thursday, April 25, to D.A.P. It’s that simple. Really. While D.A.P. volunteers will be present at most of the participating venues during the day—offering “I Dined” stickers and giving people the opportunity to make extra donations if they’d like—all people need to do to help D.A.P. is dine and/or drink at one of the participating restaurants and bars.

Find a complete and constantly updated list of participants at www.diningoutforlife.com/city/greater-palm-springs.

Dining Out for Life is held on behalf of HIV/AIDS service organizations in 45 cities across North America on the last Thursday each April. Even though the Coachella Valley is one of the smallest markets—if not the smallest market—that participates, last year’s $280,000 was the second-largest amount raised in any city. Only Denver, which had three times as many restaurants participating, raised more money.

Why is Dining Out for Life so successful in the Coachella Valley?

“We have a secret sauce that’s a combination of a few important ingredients,” Tucci said. “First, the restaurateurs in our valley really embody our valley’s philanthropic nature.

“Second, this valley has been at the forefront of the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic since day one, and today’s inhabitants embody that. At Dining Out for Life, we see a dedication from attendees that’s almost like the dedication people have when going to vote.

“People wore that ‘I Dined’ sticker as a badge of honor, just like the ‘I Voted’ sticker on Election Day,” Tucci said about last year’s Dining Out for Life event. “We’d never ran out of stickers before.”

Tucci isn’t exaggerating when he touts the generosity of local restaurateurs; last year, the top three fundraising restaurants in North America—yes, the entire continent—were all located in Palm Springs: Spencer’s Restaurant, Lulu California Bistro and Trio Restaurant.

Then there are the smaller restaurants that give literally everything they have, and then some, on Dining Out for Life day. Tucci said he was amazed, for example, by the generosity of the Holiday House Palm Springs last year: Not only did the restaurant give 100 percent; the owner then matched that 100 percent donation. And at Rooster and the Pig, the restaurant gave 100 percent—and the staff donated all of their tips for the day, too. Other 100 percent participants last year included The Barn at Sparrows Lodge, Ristretto and—at 110 percent—Townie Bagels.

“All of these restaurants that participate, whether they’re giving 33 percent or 100 percent—not one of them is making money that day,” Tucci said.

This incredible generosity is needed more than ever by the Desert AIDS Project. While the origination remains one of the top HIV/AIDS service organizations in the world, D.A.P. is now also much more: As a Federally Qualified Health Center, anyone in need of primary medical care can walk in D.A.P.’s doors and become a client, getting access to doctors, prescriptions, dental care and behavior-health care. In fact, roughly half of D.A.P.’s clients today are not living with HIV.

Seeing as more than half of the Coachella Valley’s residents now live at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, D.A.P. is struggling to make sure everyone who needs quality health care in the valley can get it. To meet the demand, D.A.P. is in the midst of a $20 million expansion, slated for completion in 2020, that will more than double the organization’s patient capacity. When the expansion is complete, D.A.P.’s 60,490-square-foot campus will be able to serve 8,000 patients, up from 3,900 in 2017. The dental clinic will be able to help 1,700 people, compared to 814 in 2017, while the behavioral-health-patient capacity will rise from 583 to 1,200.

Every dollar raised during Dining Out for Life makes a huge difference. As for the aforementioned scone and coffee at Ristretto I bought to kick off Dining Out for Life last year … with Ristretto giving 110 percent of that sale to D.A.P., that $8 purchase wound up paying for three safer-sex kits. I went to Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill for dinner with two friends; we spent $120, and with the restaurant giving 50 percent, $60 went to D.A.P. to pay for three free, confidential HIV tests. I dropped in and had a drink with a party of about a dozen or so friends, most of whom were dining there, at Zin American Bistro; seeing as Zin donated about 75 percent of that check, about $340 went to D.A.P.—enough to house a low-income client for a whole month.

Follow me via the Coachella Valley Independent’s Facebook page on Thursday, April 25, as I try to match or even surpass my 11 stops from last year—and join me in visiting as many Dining Out for Life participants as possible. After all, the Coachella Valley has a lot of work to do this year to match the giving of last year.

For more information, including a complete list of Dining Out for Life participants, visit www.diningoutforlife.com/city/greater-palm-springs. If you know of a restaurant that you’d like to see participate in Dining Out for Life, get information at www.desertaidsproject.org/2019-dining-out-for-life.

Probe 7 is an electronic-music act that Brent Heinze has kept going since 1992. He re-launched Probe 7 in 2018 with a new vocalist, Charlie Harding. Heinze recently relocated to the Palm Springs area, and Probe 7 will be playing at the Piggy Party at the Tool Shed on Friday, Feb. 8, which will also serve as an album-release party. For more information on Probe 7, visit www.probe7music.com. Heinze was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

I went to see Bruce Springsteen with my dad in 1984.

What was the first album you owned?

Bee Gees' Spirits Having Flown, because I loved the song “Tragedy” and took the album from my mom.

What bands are you listening to right now?

The Faint, Skinny Puppy, The Frozen Autumn, Provision, Empathy Test, and Imperative Reaction.

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

Honestly, with Kanye West, I have never understood or enjoyed anything I’ve heard from him, not to mention anything he has said publicly.

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

I would have loved to see Joy Division in their original configuration before Ian Curtis’ death.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Queensrÿche's Operation: Mindcrime album.

What’s your favorite music venue?

I have not had the opportunity to play Whisky A Go Go in Los Angeles, but would love to play there.

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

“I have a reservation for a padded room where all my dreams are of you,” Hexheart, “Lunatix.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Hands down, it was The Cure. They were the first band I got obsessed with, owning all their albums.

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

Laurie Anderson: “Would you please adopt me?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Deine Lakaien’s “Love Me to the End.”

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

Sisters of Mercy, First and Last and Always.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Fires featuring The Rain Within, “Survive.” (Scroll down to hear it!)

Published in The Lucky 13

The nascent Sunny Dunes Antique District had a coming-out party, of sorts, on Saturday, June 20.

Various businesses in the district kept their doors open a little later than normal for the Pop Shop Hop, “an evening of shopping and discovery of all the shops on Sunny Dunes,” according to the event’s Facebook page.

A decent-sized crowd—considering it was about 110 degrees outside—wandered among the various shops and chatted with proprietors; anybody who visited all of the participating businesses received a free entry into a raffle. Of course, participants could purchase extra raffle tickets, with the proceeds going to the Safe House of the Desert, which operates the Pop Shop thrift store in the area.

Around 8 p.m., people assembled at the Tool Shed, a gay/leather bar on Sunny Dunes, for the raffle drawing; all of the prizes were donated by various area businesses.

“I love this neighborhood,” said George Zander, who helped organize the Pop Shop Hop. He’s part of Some Fabulous Leos, a charity group which has spent the last year supporting the Safe House. “I love the entrepreneurship.”

Yes, there’s lots to love in this little neighborhood, located just south of downtown Palm Springs, where a lot of new businesses have popped up within the last year or two—and in that spirit of entrepreneurship, these businesses came together earlier this year and started holding monthly meetings to fight for common interests.

The Sunny Dunes Antique District—not everyone’s sold on that name, by the way—has modest goals. A bike path and bike racks, for example. A sign at the start of the district on Sunny Dunes. Maybe a stop for the Palm Springs BUZZ Trolley, which as of now simply zooms by the area.

The group already has a win under its belt, of sorts. Bill Sanderson, of Townie Bagels, Bakery and Café, notes that the group worked with Palm Springs Councilwoman Ginny Foat to get the city to allow businesses to place A-frame signs outside. Unlike the businesses in, say, the Uptown Design District, the businesses in the Sunny Dunes Antique District can’t legally place signs outside, Sanderson explained, because the area is zoned for commercial manufacturing.

As of now, that zoning remains in place, although he said Foat received assurances that the businesses wouldn’t be cited if they put out A-frames. “As for a zoning change, we’re working for that to become permanent,” he said.

Speaking of new businesses: While Townie has been selling bagels and other goodies at farmers’ markets for some time now, Townie’s storefront, at 650 E. Sunny Dunes Road (in the spot formerly occupied by Tlaquepaque), isn’t even open yet. Fingers crossed, it’ll open sometime in July. During the Pop Shop Hop, Townie used some counter space inside the Pop Shop.

Next door to the Pop Shop, more or less, is the 20,000-square-foot building that houses Antique Galleries of Palm Springs, at 505 E. Industrial Place. Mike Rivkin is one of the owners of Antique Galleries, which opened over Thanksgiving weekend 2014. He and others credit Angela Kinley, who manages the Pop Shop, with galvanizing the creation of the neighborhood group (although it should be noted that Kinley adamantly, yet politely, refuses to be a spokesperson for the neighborhood).

“This building was closed for a number of years,” Rivkin said about his delightfully air-conditioned space. It was previously a printing facility and then a medical-marijuana-growing spot, he said.

“The building was a wreck,” Rivkin said. Today, it houses diverse wares from dozens of vendors. “I think, in some respects, this building was a catalyst” for the increase in area businesses over the last year or so.

Rivkin said the business district has been a success so far because everybody in the neighborhood seems to understand the idiom: “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

“There’s a lack of competitiveness and a wonderful sense of collaboration,” Rivkin said, pointing out that he often refers customers to the other antique/collectables businesses in the area—and vice-versa.

Across the street from the Pop Shop and Antique Galleries is I Remember This!, a vintage and collectables store that also opened around Thanksgiving last year. Co-owner Andy Cardenas said he’s heard from other potential store owners who are interested in the district, even though the area hasn’t necessarily had a great reputation.

“We’d like to keep this a neighborhood,” he said. “We want to keep it from becoming too commercialized so we don’t lose our focus. We want it to be more independent.”

The Sunny Dunes Antique District obviously has a long way to go—including reaching a definitive conclusion on that name. (Some of the stores that don’t sell antiques have concerns, it turns out.)

“We all got together to try something,” said Bill Sanderson, of Townie Bagels.

Considering the number of new businesses opening in the area, what they’re trying seems to be working. Stay tuned.

Below: Andy Cardenas, of I Remember This!: “We’d like to keep this a neighborhood. We want to keep it from becoming too commercialized so we don’t lose our focus. We want it to be more independent.” TOMMY HAMILTON/TOMMY LOCUST PHOTOGRAPHY

Published in Local Issues