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Features

20 Dec 2013
There is but one ice rink operating in the Coachella Valley: Cathedral City’s Desert Ice Castle, offering “the coolest fun in the desert,” according to its slogan. While the Desert Ice Castle is open to the public, it also has a mysterious element to it—including the fact that it’s a main training spot for a potential 2014 Olympic medalist. I wanted to talk to the owner—Anthony Liu, a former Olympic men’s figure-skater and a seven-time Australian champion—about the Desert Ice Castle. But for weeks, he eluded my phone calls and requests to talk. So at 7 a.m. on one recent Saturday morning, I went to the DIC with my camera, hoping to photograph and talk to Liu. I’d been told that he was back in town briefly between international trips to skating competitions being held in preparation for the Olympics—two of which had been won by his star pupil, Japanese…
02 Dec 2013
The sun is descending behind the San Jacinto Mountains as the classroom portion of the daily First Tee of the Coachella Valley program gets under way in the pro shop/education center of the First Tee golf course in Palm Desert. “I show respect for my surroundings by picking up trash wherever I see it,” declares James, a member of the “Player 3” group (ages 7 to 9). He is addressing his fellow First Tee students, a few parents, lead instructor Jeff Harrison and LPGA-USGA program director Amy Anderson. This group is learning how to incorporate into their daily existence the “nine core life values” emphasized by the program. Instilling these character traits in each and every participant is the primary mission of the First Tee staff here in Coachella Valley—and all of the chapters worldwide. “We want to make them good citizens,” says executive director Glenn Miller. “I don’t really…
04 Nov 2013
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The Stroke Recovery Center in Palm Springs is truly an exceptional place when you consider that it has around 300 clients—and the services it provides are often free. The Stroke Recovery Center, at 2800 E. Alejo Road, runs on grants, the kindness of donors and money raised through fundraisers. The organization is holding its biggest fundraiser, the 34th Winter Wonderland Ball, on Saturday, Nov. 23, at the Westin Mission Hills Resort. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke states that 700,000 people in the United States suffer a stroke each year. “It’s the leading cause of a handicap for adults,” said Beverly Greer, the CEO of the Stroke Recovery Center. “The most recent statistics say that one in four families has someone who has suffered a stroke.” The key to a recovery after a serious stroke is rehabilitation. Even with rehab, there’s no cure or full recovery, but it…
05 Nov 2013
About 30 miles east of Indio, perched on the high ground of Chiriaco Summit, stands the General Patton Memorial Museum. It is located at the heart of what was the Desert Training Center, established by Gen. George S. Patton in 1942 to train American troops in desert warfare in preparation for the invasion of North Africa. In its brief, two-year existence, it became the largest Army training facility in the United States, through which passed 60 divisions and more than 1 million soldiers. On Monday, Nov. 11—Veterans Day—a crowd of some 1,000 dignitaries, honorees, veterans and their families will gather in this space with local citizens to recognize the contributions and sacrifices of all American veterans. This year, the traditional event will serve a dual purpose: It will be a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the museum as well. “This 25th anniversary celebration of the museum’s opening is a…
25 Oct 2013
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The LGBT community celebrated on June 26 when the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on United States v. Windsor struck down Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act—and Hollingsworth v. Perry overturned California’s Proposition 8 and therefore allowed LGBT couples here to get married. These were historic decisions for LGBT Californians—but they’ve been a long time coming, and the fight for marriage equality continues in the majority of the United States. On June 28, 1969, in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City, the fight for gay rights began in earnest when the Stonewall Inn was raided by police. As officers loaded some of the patrons into the patrol wagon, the crowd began to sing “We Shall Overcome.” When a scuffle between a woman in handcuffs and four police officers broke out, the crowd began to fight back. What’s believed to be the first gay pride march took…
11 Oct 2013
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Palm Springs is known for its large, vibrant gay population—and, therefore, for gay tourism as well. Enter Desert Adventures, and its new Gay Icons of Palm Springs Tour. Headquartered in Palm Desert, Desert Adventures offers a variety of local Jeep tours to the San Andreas Fault, Joshua Tree and the Indian Canyons. One of Desert Adventures’ guides, Bob Gross of Rancho Mirage, had the idea for the new tour. “The company was looking to expand our outreach and make sure both locals and visitors knew our tours were fun and available to be led by gay guides like myself or another guide, Carlos Salas,” said Gross, who joined the company about two years ago after retiring from AT&T. “As for the Icons Tour, specifically, things get kind of slow for us during the summer due to the heat, so I went to my boss and said I'd like to create…
06 Sep 2013
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The tall, shadowy figure of a man with a sheepish grin has been spotted roaming the grounds of the La Quinta Resort. The man, who also wears a large hat, has reportedly appeared at the foot of a bed, and has occasionally been spotted gazing into a window. A security camera, perhaps, once saw him, too—as a dark mass moving swiftly down an otherwise empty passageway. Enter the Palm Springs Paranormal Investigation Team. The small, somewhat underground group investigates reported hauntings—and welcomes any skeptic or adventurer who is willing to join in the hunt. Donnie Thompson is joined by Jorge P., documentarian; Gloria R., medium/sensitive; and Jana B., “seasoned” investigator and technical adviser. At a recent, invite-only meeting, they decided to investigate the La Quinta Resort. The La Quinta Resort, built in 1924, has long been the site of apparitions and “sightings,” as reported by many guests and employees. The…
26 Jul 2013
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Since 1985, the American Cancer Society has held Relay for Life fundraising events in thousands of cities across the world. But as far as local organizers know, there’s never been a Relay for Life quite like the one taking place next Friday and Saturday, Aug. 2 and 3, at the Riviera Palm Springs. The Relay for Life formula is fairly tried and true: People form teams, gather pledges, and then take turns walking or running around a track (at a high school, for example) for a certain time period—often 24 hours. Spectators and supporters can show up and buy items from the various teams, each of which has a table set up. The proceeds go to the American Cancer Society—and those proceeds can be substantial: Cathedral City’s Relay for Life generally raises around $80,000 per year, and little Yucca Valley’s garners $100,000, said Jennifer Heggie, the local ACS Relay for…
22 Jul 2013
Contact in the Desert is “a gathering of the superstars of UFOlogy.” That’s how spokesperson and lecturer Michael Luckman described the event, slated for Friday, Aug. 9, through Sunday, Aug. 11, at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center. Organizers hope Contact in the Desert—which will feature lectures, workshops and interactive experiences conducted by 32 renowned experts in the topics of UFO sightings, extra-terrestrial contacts and proactive ET-signaling—will become an annual event. “More than 400 military personnel have given videotaped depositions worldwide saying that UFOs are real. They’ve had sightings and encounters,” said Luckman, “When so many military eyewitnesses come forward, there really is very little left to debate.” Luckman is also the founder of Cosmic Majority, which calls on “the governments of the world to implement an early warning detection system designed to reduce the growing meteor and asteroid threat.” Contact in the Desert comes on the heels of the Citizen…
04 Jun 2013
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Over the last decade, roller derby has made a massive comeback. Roller derby—a sport that was created in the 1930s—began that comeback in part because of all-female amateur leagues that started in places like Austin, Texas. It's slowly been catching fire across the nation and around the world. In fact, ESPN recently called roller derby the fastest-growing sport in the world. Many women of roller derby today are dedicated athletes, and women of all ages and backgrounds are signing up for local teams. The sport has gone back to its strategic and competitive roots after becoming something like a WWE on roller skates in the 1980s, when bouts had the reputation of being violent, and the winning teams were predetermined in some leagues. However, the amusing pseudonyms of individual players remain intact. In June 2012, Jessica Jeffries (known as Jessi James), who had moved to the Coachella Valley from San…