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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

On this week's hurricane-fearing weekly Independent comics page: This Modern World watches as Brett Kavanaugh refuses to answer questions; Jen Sorenson has Kavanaugh get possessed by the Spirit of Honesty; (th)ink honors the greatness of the film Sorry to Bother You; Apoca Clips lights some shoes on fire; and Red Meat watches as Karen seeks legal help from Milkman Dan.

Published in Comics

On this week's nutmeg-tinged weekly Independent comics page: Jen Sorenson goes shopping at the Bunker Bunker; The K Chronicles celebrates a touchdown; This Modern World ponders sexual harassment; Apoca Clips goes back to campaign greatest-hits; and Red Meat knocks out some hummingbirds.

Published in Comics

When I stopped standing in school for the national anthem and Pledge of Allegiance, no one noticed. Not only was I not famous; I wasn’t even popular.

But it was already clear to me—almost 50 years ago—that I was primarily a citizen of a planet, not of a nation, especially not a nation that used young people as fodder in a baffling war, and a nation that diminished women and demonized people of color, although I would not have used that language then. Still, I knew enough to be disturbed by the images of war and the Civil Rights Movement that I saw on television and Life magazine. 

Maybe the knowledge that I was basically invisible gave me the courage to resist the flag-waving agenda. Perhaps I was slightly odder than other 16- or 17-year-olds. I’d grown up a little wild and a little dreamy, by a lake in the remnant forest of Washington state, and so I felt allied with the earth, with land and creatures. This was well before the first Earth Day in 1970, and long before the language and concepts of biodiversity and ecology became widespread.

The times have changed. In recent months, sports players, protesting racial injustice, have made headlines for “taking a knee” during the national anthem. I admire the courage it takes to risk one’s career in public dissent. Sometimes I feel like a privileged coward. I seldom attend events that include the national anthem or flag allegiance, so I have few occasions to risk not standing.

Since the breakdown of civil discourse and rise of anonymous Internet bullying (and worse), it’s now risky to be regarded as “unpatriotic”—a word with multiple interpretations. For some, patriotism involves protecting water or the integrity of wild ecosystems, or creating resilient communities; for others, it means strip-mining or clear-cutting to create jobs. Some patriots focus on the common good; for others, self-interest may be primary. In the rural West, patriotism may run in the Cliven Bundy direction.

Disparate views and voices today often clash with the intent to dominate, intimidate or silence the less powerful. Respectful listening is no longer a high priority, if it ever was. Yet democracy depends on the flourishing of a spectrum of voices. I write letters to government officials; I sign petitions; I make modest donations.

For years now, though, my opposition to the politics and policies that undermine our life-support system has shape-shifted into a different kind of participation in the world—a kind of deep listening to the wild earth, where, it turns out, biodiversity is robustly expressed by an orchestra of wild voices.

Over decades, the bio-acoustic engineer Bernie Krause has recorded natural sound habitats all over the world. His careful listening led to the discovery that creatures vocalize in relationship to one another, in a specific frequency and timeframe— or acoustic bandwidth—in which their voices can be heard. Krause proposed the once-radical idea that, if a species’ particular vocal niche is lost, the creature can no longer survive in that ecosystem, and will move on, or die out. Today, many of the once-thriving wild habitats that Krause has recorded have gone mute, overcome by human activity.

In our tweet-infested social media maelstrom, dominant voices are often mistaken for those that contribute meaningfully to the cultural conversation, mistaken for offerings that nourish our collective ecosystem. In divisive times, it’s challenging to refrain from demonizing those with different views. It’s easy to regard others as uninformed or somehow deficient. Easy, and about as fruitful as adding motor oil to compost.

Healthy ecosystems include predators and prey, grass and grass-eaters, bacteria and hosts. Is there a more ecologically coherent response to our moment than bludgeoning one another with opinions, shouting over the shy ones, cordoning off those whose views disagree with our own?

I want to honor the quiet speech of the most vulnerable. I want, especially, to honor and offer wild prayers for the continued howls, creaks, grunts, chitters and caws of the Others. Somehow, nearly 50 years ago, I recognized that my primary allegiance was to the wild Earth—not to a nation-state or flag. I did not have Gary Snyder’s poet-philosopher sensibilities, or even his poem “For All,” which may not have been written yet. But when I came across the poem decades later, I resonated, and still do, with Snyder’s vow:

I pledge allegiance to the soil

of Turtle Island,

and to the beings who thereon dwell

one ecosystem

in diversity

under the sun

With joyful interpenetration for all.

When the trail disappears in rubble, or when there are a thousand plotlines to choose from, or when the conditions are divisive and the dominant voices are clashing, it’s essential to have some kind of compass, some allegiance, by which to steer.

Geneen Marie Haugen is a contributor to Writers on the Range, the opinion service of High Country News. She is a writer who also guides for Animas Valley Institute in Durango, Colo.

Published in Community Voices

New: So Cal-Based Chain Luna Grill Opens Its Doors in Palm Desert

Luna Grill claims to be “one of the country’s hottest fast-casual concepts.” While we are not sure exactly what that means, we are sure that the 39th and newest Luna Grill is located in Palm Desert, at 73405 Highway 111, in Palm Desert—and we’re also sure that the Mediterranean-style food being served there is pretty darned delicious.

Independent contributor Kevin Fitzgerald and I were fortunate enough to attend a pre-opening training-day lunch at Luna. I ordered the chicken kabob and gyros plate ($14.95) while Kevin had the chicken wrap ($9.50), and we split the handcrafted spinach pie ($5.25) as a starter. While we had minor quibbles—the chicken in Kevin’s wrap was a little dry, and the rice on my plate needed a bit more flavor—everything was delicious (especially that gyro meat!).

The first Luna Grill opened in 2004, and there are now locations across Southern California, as well as in the Dallas, Texas, area. The company is in a “strategic growth push,” according to a news release, so don’t be surprised to be more locations popping up.

For more information, or to order food online, visit lunagrill.com.


Roc’s Firehouse Grille Cancels NFL Sunday Ticket in Protest of the Protests

On Oct. 4, ROC’s Firehouse Grille, located at 36891 Cook St., in Palm Desert, made an announcement on Facebook: Owner Roland O. Cook was cancelling the restaurant’s subscription to DIRECTV and NFL Sunday Ticket due to the ongoing player protests, during which some players are kneeling during the national anthem.

In the lengthy announcement, Cook—a former firefighter—said that he supported the rights of the players to protest, but that cops and military officers are his friends, and he thinks political divisions are “killing” the country.

“It’s a sure recipe for destroying our children's future,” he wrote. “Damn, can’t you leave politics out of football and just play the game on Sunday? Emphasis on ‘play’ and ‘game.’”

The announcement was followed by hundreds of comments both in support of and opposition to ROC’s decision. The public comment chain is at times moving, at times horrifying (with some definite ignorance and racism here and there), and completely fascinating.

While I disagree in principle with Cook’s decision, I admire his willingness to take a stand for something in which he believes. Beyond that, I’ll leave the pros-and-cons discussion of these player protests—started by Colin Kaepernick, regarding the disproportionate number of deaths of minorities at the hands of law enforcement in this country—for other sections of this newspaper, and simply refer you to www.facebook.com/ROCsFirehouseGrille, where you can read Cook’s announcement and the many, many comments that follow.


In Brief

So long, Appetito. The “Cal-Italian Deli” at 1700 S. Camino Real, in Palm Springs, has closed its doors. A sign went up saying the place would be closed for deep cleaning … and then everything inside disappeared. … Also closed: Palmie French Restaurant, which was located at 44491 Town Center Way in Palm Desert. … And now some good news: Numerous new restaurants continue to open along Highway 111 in Palm Desert. In addition to Luna Grill, the second valley location of Dragon Sushi will soon be opening—if it hasn’t already—at 72261 Highway 111. The original Dragon Sushi, at 82451 Highway 111, in Indio, is wildly popular. Let’s hope this new Dragon Sushi location lasts longer than a short-lived Cathedral City incarnation did three years ago. Search for Dragon Sushi Palm Desert on Facebook for more info. … Just down the street, the second Pokehana is open, at 73405 Highway 111, following in the footsteps of the original location in La Quinta. Learn more at www.pokehana.com. … Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, at 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, has hired Alen Badzak as the new executive chef. Badzak’s resume includes stints at the Europa Restaurant at the Villa Royale Inn, The Nest and The New York Company Restaurant. He replaces Jennifer Town, who moved over to Melvyn’s/Ingleside Inn. Learn more at purpleroompalmsprings.com. … Local wine-seller and social club Mood Wine is holding a red-wine tasting at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 15, at Tipper’s Gourmet Marketplace, at 276 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Food bites will be paired with the wines on offer; tickets are $57.30. Find more information and a ticket link at www.facebook.com/moodwinellc. … Mark your calendars: The Palm Desert Food and Wine festival will return March 23-25, 2018. Get tickets or sign up for updates at www.palmdesertfoodandwine.com. … If you don’t want to wait until March for local food-fest fun, no worries: The Rancho Mirage Wine and Food Festival is slated for Feb. 17, 2018. Head to www.ranchomiragewineandfoodfestival.com for tickets and details.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

On this week's fall-tinged weekly Independent comics page: Jen Sorenson looks behind the conspiracy theories; The K Chronicles takes a survey; This Modern World talks to a gun nut; Apoca Clips listens in as Trumpy and Pence talk strategy; and Red Meat gets ready for bed.

Published in Comics

Dear Mexican: With all these NFL players kneeling for the national anthem, how do the Mexicans feel about this? Do they still resent the United States for robando their territory, or do they appreciate the U.S. and its oportunidades?

Jerry Juero Jones

Dear JJJ: Both—but none of those feelings have anything to do with how we feel about Colin Kaepernick and the movement he inspired.

Frankly, Mexicans LOVE those kneel-downs, because we’re all about inconvenient protests that make gabachos angry. Whether it’s undocumented students chaining themselves together while shielding their handcuffs with PVC pipe and laying down in busy intersections, or hundreds of thousands of us taking to the streets in 2006 to demand amnesty, or hundreds of our youth waving around the Mexican flag in the face of good liberals who beg them to wave the Stars and Stripes, Mexicans know the power of pissing off the powers that be. Sure, you’re going to be unpopular in the short run, and even turn off potential supporters, but it’s all about the long game. And the juego largo is to bring pride to your side—to let the world know you’re no longer content with being peons or house slaves, and to inspire others to be unafraid of your minority status.

Besides, Mexicans are a forgiving lot: All our sports stars have to do is win, and all is forgiven. Hell, gabachos are worse—what else explains all the fans who go see the Penn State Nittany Lions football squad? Or the continued popularity of R. Kelly?

Dear Mexican: Is there such a thing as “reverse racism” anymore? Or have you and other “minorities” gained enough clout, sympathy and numbers in this country to admit that it is just called blatant racism now? 

Pinche Gringo

Dear Gabacho: Donald Trump is president, and he’s killing Puerto Rico. Oh, and #fucktrump.

Dear Mexican: Why is that Mexicans put every cheap accessory from Pep Boys or Kragen on their trucks? I mean, the cars that they drive started the lowrider thing, and those are so cool—but the trucks look like a JC Whitney catalog gone crazy. There’s no style, rhyme or reason: Turbo stickers on a truck with a straight-six motor. Fiberglass fender flares of different colors with chrome edges added as an afterthought.

You know exactly what I am talking about. Not that I disapprove—to each their own on customizing … just wondering.

TC in South OC

Dear Gabacho: Don’t forget the bull stickers, or the bull huevos hanging from the rear, or the silhouette sticker of Chalino loading one of his guns, or—for our Central American hermanos—that sticker of a cherubic boy wearing baggy pants and a floppy backward baseball cap who is waving the flag of a particular country. To each their own on customizing, indeed.

But ain’t it funny how when gabachos do haphazard decorations on their vehicles, it’s called Kustom Kulture, and gets books and museum retrospectives—but when Mexicans do it, the cops pull them over? Typical gabacho hypocrisy. Besides, Rat Fink don’t got nada on Calvin pissing on “LA MIGRA,” cabrón.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican

On this week's taking-a-knee weekly Independent comics page: Red Meat has a discussion in the mirror; Apoca Clips listens to Trumpy ramble about the NFL; This Modern World offers a parable involving a cliff; Jen Sorenson looks back at the ... not-good-but-better old days; and The K Chronicles examines the consequences of "But Mom!"

Published in Comics