August 22, 2011
DHS Festival Advisory Committee, August 17
The audio recording of this meeting of the Desert Hot Springs Festival Advisory Committee is available here. Committee members Paul Ryan, Mary Stephens and Sabine Pollermann were absent from this meeting.
I'm just going to give you an extremely brief, very abridged report, because my top priority right now is packing for Burning Man. Fortunately, there was almost nothing to report at this meeting. The committee members continued to refine the Request For Proposal. At this point, it's just work, no drama. The very nearly final RFP should be ready for their next meeting, which is currently scheduled for September 14, Wednesday, 3 PM - but it should be at the newly renovated Carl May, not the Senior Center. Paul Ryan should be back for that meeting, but Ed Trost will be out of town.
If they approve the RFP, then we'll have something to chew on. After the committee approves it, the city council must also approve it before it gets sent out.
Burning Man Welcome Sign
There's always a big Burning Man welcome sign at the point where you turn off the paved highway and venture out onto the playa. This year the sign is a bit fancier than in years past. Here's an interesting video of it being made.
Go here to see a few still photos of the erection of the sign. The sign faces roughly west, and I've never seen it in the afternoon. It's reassuring to see that a professional photographer like John Curley doesn't do a whole lot better shooting into the morning sun than I would.
Last Night's DUI Checkpoint In Desert Hot Springs
The Desert Hot Springs Police conducted a DUI checkpoint at an "undisclosed location" in the city (and it's still undisclosed this morning, unless somebody wants to tell me where they saw it). The numbers: 633 vehicles screened, 4 field sobriety tests, 1 DUI arrest, 1 warrant arrest, 23 vehicles towed for various vehicle code violations, and 24 citations issued.
August 21, 2011
Desert Hot Springs
The Fall is about, in one word, storytelling. In addition to that it's one of the most beautiful and fascinating films I've ever seen. It was less popular in theaters than it should have been, so there's a good chance you never saw it. The budget was not public, but it must have cost a fortune to make. They used no green screen and very little CGI. One of the locations in the movie is "the blue city," which you would think was created with CGI. In reality there is a city somewhere in Asia where the only color you can paint your house is blue, so the makers of the film went there and gave away free blue paint a few weeks before they filmed. The resulting scenes on film are astounding.
Every movie should have a swimming elephant. It's rated "R" for violence. It's not any more violent than traditional fairy tales, but that's extremely violent when it's up on the screen.
I grabbed a few screenshots:
From the opening sequence of The Fall.
It was at about this point in the film that I realized I was going to need a bigger
boat TV. The movie was shot on 35mm film, but the vastness of some of the scenes reminds me of Lawrence Of Arabia.
August 20, 2011
Happy Birthday Mayor Parks
Before we go any further I have to ask you, does your city's mayor have a photo like this in her or his campaign portfolio? No, she or he does not, unless you live in Desert Hot Springs. All the other mayors can duck their heads with shame. That's December 1963, and I was in the 4th grade.
And yes, Yvonne Parks. She woulda been huge, if not for that Judy Garland.
Catering seems to have been, at least in part, by Red Tomato and House of Lamb. Are they open yet at 1201 East Palm Canyon? Great food. Way too much and too rich. Open bar. We don't usually see stuff like this in DHS.
Everybody who was anybody was there. The whole city council. Most of the water district directors. City Manager Daniels. Supervisor Ashley. Assemblyman Perez. PSUSD board. DHS Women's Club. Didn't see any bona fide reporters.
Amtrak Bus Connection to Bakersfield
This Desert Sun article announces a new Amtrak bus connection from the Coachella Valley to Bakersfield where you can board a train to Oakland or Sacramento. The bus will skip Palm Springs entirely, just in case you thought they might provide a really convenient connection directly to the Amtrak station at Garnet. Oh no, you must remember this is Amtrak. The bus will stop in Cabazon, Palm Desert and La Quinta. You can only get a bus ticket in conjunction with a rail ticket, so all of you who are itching to get to Bakersfield by bus can just forget it.
The article says that the trip to Bakersfield is a stunning seven hours in length! Wondering how they could manage to stretch what would be about a 3½-hour trip into 7 hours, I began digging around on the Amtrak site. You can't just look up the bus, since they won't sell you a ticket for that. So I did a reservations request for Cabazon to Oakland and the results shows the bus actually takes only 5 hours and 40 minutes to get to Bakersfield. Close enough for The Desert Sun and government work, I suppose.
You can download a map of Amtrak bus routes in California here. It does not appear to have been updated to show this new connection, though. It shows stops in the Coachella Valley at Palm Springs, Thousand Palms and Indio. It looks like the route might be to San Bernardino, then up to Victorville, over to Palmdale and Lancaster, Mojave, Tehachapi, Bakersfield. If you allow 10 minutes for every stop shown on that map, it would account for an hour and 40 minutes. Ten minutes is probably too short. Plus, you've got to allow more time because a lot of the distance is on slower roads. Pretty soon you're up to 5 hours and 40 minutes.
Kim Jong-Il Is In Russia
The Cuddly Leader (or whatever the proper term is) has traveled by armored train (shades of World War I) to eastern Russia where he will meet with President Medvedev. This is his first visit to Russia since 2002. If some of the Glorious Generals back in the Democratic Republic have been thinking of a coup to try to save their nation, this would be the time.
Anaheim's Right To Ban Marijuana Coops Affirmed
A Superior Court decision says that Anaheim's ban on dispensaries does not violate state law. Opponents say they will appeal, of course. The very interesting detail is that despite the ban, there are an estimated FIFTY marijuana dispenaries operating in Anaheim! The city attorney says they've moved to shut down about a half dozen. So the real result of the ban is that you've got more than 40 places dealing with marijuana, unregulated and untaxed by the city. I'd be interested to know what the city thinks this has done to improve Anaheim.
Last Night's DUI Checkpoints
Rancho Mirage, 111 at Atrium Way: 792 vehicles, 674 screened, 15 field sobriety tests, 3 arrested for DUI. Ten arrested for driving unlicensed or suspended.
Coachella, Harrison south of Avenue 52: 841 vehicles, 3 arrested for DUI, 1 arrested for public intoxication, 1 arrested on a felony narcotic warrant. Nineteen were cited for driving unlicensed or suspended. There were 8 citations for hazardous equipment violations.
That's an interesting difference in the application of the law. In Rancho Mirage driving unlicensed/suspended gets you arrested. In Coachella you get only a citation.
City Manager Memos
Info from recent memos from City Manager Rick Daniels, edited down and commented upon by Ron, of course.
The General Plan traffic analysis is being conducted to address traffic generation from the remaining portion of the Rancho Royale Specific Plan. This project was not included in the original traffic analysis for the General Plan. The developer for this project is paying for the revised traffic analysis and the data will be included in the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the General Plan.
"Rancho Royale" didn't ring any bells for me, but some Googling revealed that it was the original name for what became "Highland Falls," which is often referred to as the Snellenberger project; that big, undeveloped rectangle northwest of the intersection of Pierson and Highway 62. I suppose the name "Rancho Royale" is still on the original documents, such as the specific plan referred to by City Manager Daniels.
- The city has received an application for a special permit for the Food Now Chili Cook-Off to be held at Dillon Road House in November 2011. This can mean only one thing: the Food Now Chili Cook-Off will be held in November 2011 at the Dillon Road House.
- Easement documents for the planned traffic light at Palm Drive and Camino Campañero were expected to be signed last week.
- Code Enforcement "[i]ssued five Notices of Violations related to riotous or public nuisance behavior." "Riotous" behavior. Haven't heard that one before. I know the Marx Brothers weren't in town, so what was up?
BMIR Playa Radio
BMIR the official FM voice of Black Rock City will begin live broadcasts again on Wednesday afternoon, September 24. The weak FM signal barely reaches the highway, but you can listen via the internet here even while you sit in your non-dusty home with plumbing and upholstered furniture. It's got music, some talk, and is the official source for news on what's happening on the playa at Burning Man.
August 19, 2011
Weekend in Mariposa County
Last weekend I went up to Mariposa County for skinnydipping in the Chowchilla River and to confer with Nathan and Per, two Burning Man virgins who will be joining our camp in Black Rock City this year.
Per is building a yurt to use on the playa. The walls and roof are built from this aluminum coated insulation. The segments are taped together. This has become an increasingly popular shelter on the playa over the last few years.
Burning Man Temple Of Transition Under Construction
The 2011 Temple under construction, photo by John Curley. [click for more photos] As you can see this year's temple will return to the tradition of looking templish, unlike the 2010 temple.
City Manager Daniels Congratulates DHS Police
A note from Rick Daniels:
I am congratulating our officers, detectives and Chief Williams' command staff for turning a seemingly isolated routine patrol stop into solving a city wide residential theft ring. That's admirable police work that distinguishes the DHS PD! I am proud of their work and want them to know it.
CITY OF DESERT HOT SPRINGS POLICE DEPARTMENT PRESS RELEASE
INCIDENT: Residential burglaries
DATE OF INCIDENT: Multiple over the past month
LOCATION: Multiple locations, DHS
SUSPECT/ARRESTEE: Minor's name withheld due to age / resident of DHS
DESCRIPTION OF INCIDENT:
August 17, 2011, at approximately 4:16 PM, Officers contacted a (17 year old) juvenile resident of the City of Desert Hot Springs at the intersection of Ironwood Drive and Mesquite Avenue. During the contact, officers discovered that the juvenile was in possession of stolen property taken from a recent residential burglary. Through the subsequent criminal investigation the juvenile admitted to participating in numerous residential burglaries throughout the city over the course of the last month. The juvenile was booked into Riverside County's juvenile hall for burglary and possession of stole property.
August 17, 2011
DHS Festival Advisory Committee - August 10
Chair Brian Michaelz and Committee Member Paul Ryan were absent from this meeting.
Request For Proposal
The committee had been asked to submit comments and ideas for the RFP by email. Mr. Trost and Ms. Lennon-Roth were the only ones to submit comments.
Ms. Lennon-Roth explained her suggestions. She said she is a bit of a control freak and she wants to know what everyone's doing and what it costs. She wants to know how much is budgeted for the wellness portion and how much for the world music portion of the festival, so she divided the information into two parts. She doesn't think the promoter should expect to rely on ticket sales, sponsors, "money from his uncle or aunt." The promoter has to come to the party with all of the money upfront. It has to be shown and the city has to know the source of the funds. It's also important to make clear that the city will be donating no property. The event will have to pay rent. She also thinks the committee should discuss imposing an entertainment tax. The city should have the opportunity to recoup the money it has already spent.
Ms. Pollermann said she had understood that the city should not look to make money from the event, but to promote the city. Ms. Lennon-Roth agreed that it will promote the city, but the city itself should be able to recoup money. She cited the example of a someone selling t-shirts at the Los Angeles Forum during an event. A percentage of the take has to go to the forum. All tickets have service charges imposed. She thinks the city should impose a service charge as well. She thinks this can be done without damaging the promoter or the event.
Mr. Trost said his understanding was that the city didn't look to make a penny on the festival. Ms. Lennon-Roth agreed that the city doesn't want to make a profit, but it does want some of the money back.
Mr. Bradshaw said he thought it was understood that the $250,000 is gone, whether there is a festival or not. The committee's mission is to get a festival without spending any more. But if a profit is generated in the 2nd or 3rd year, the city eventually begins sharing in the profit.
Mr. Frisbee that if the city derives any money from the festival it should not be considered an attempt to recoup the $250,000 which is gone.
Vice Chair Stephens said it's two separate issues, the RFP and recouping the expenses. She said the entertainment tax is a good idea, but it's a long process to get a tax approved.
Mr. Bradshaw said he did not think we could expect a promoter to come to us with all the necessary money sitting in a bank account. He did expect to see a budget in which the promoter shows how he plans to earn his money.
Ms. Lennon-Roth said that there would be a problem if 5,000 ticket holders showed up for an event, but the promoter didn't have enough money to pay the talent. She said that ticket services may take up to ten days to pay the promoter.
Mr. Bradshaw said promoters will bring with them their reputation and experience. We shouldn't preclude them from participating simply because they plan to raise some of their money from sponsors.
Mr. Trost asked how often are promoters asked to cover everything. Ms. Lennon-Roth answered "100% of the time." She said the promoter has to have all the front money upfront, plus they have to have enough money to make the show happen.
Ms. Stephens said she thought they were putting the cart before the horse. The purpose of the RFP process is to get the promoters to show us their stability, tell us about their formulas. The city will thoroughly vet the applicants.
One of the items in the draft RFP was "The event shall maintain a charitable contribution mission." That didn't seem too important to the committee members.
Another item was "The event shall receive public safety support from the city." Ms. Lennon-Roth said that the event will have to have "contemporary security" in addition to law enforcement. Mr. Bradshaw clarified that "public safety" is not the same as "event security." He suggested the addition of "...at no cost to the promoter."
Ms. Stephens agreed, but Ms. Lennon-Roth disagreed saying the promoter has to pay the tab. Mr. Bradshaw and Ms. Stephens interpret "shall receive" as "shall receive for free." Ms. Stephens said that was always done for the Fourth of July event. She said that even Indio does that [for Coachella Fest, I assume].
Ms. Lennon-Roth said that in every event that she has promoted in Los Angeles or Houston she has had to pay for public safety. Mr. Bradshaw and Ms. Stephens said "We're not Houston or Los Angeles."
I don't know what planet these guys are on, but I don't think our city budget has spare cash to provide even one police officer for an event. Any police that are working at this festival will either have to be paid overtime, or be taken away from regular duties in the rest of the city. I don't think our citizens are eager to have a reduction in police presence during a large event, and I don't think our budget has a surplus for paying police overtime for a private, potentially profit-making event. I think input is needed from Chief Williams and Jason Simpson on this.
Ms. Lennon-Roth asked why we would want the city to go out of pocket more money. "It's like throwing money away." Ms. Pollermann said the money isn't the point. The city needs to build up its reputation. Ms. Lennon-Roth countered saying "This is not a gift bag." Mr. Bradshaw said he would agree with Ms. Lennon-Roth if the proposal was for a huge motorcycle convention.
A lengthy discussion ensued on details to include in the RFP which I will mostly spare you.
Mr. Trost pointed out that there is a difference between a "music festival" and a "world music festival." Mr. Bradshaw admitted he did not know what world music is. Mr. Trost attempted to define it. You can look it up on Wikipedia:
World music in its classic definition is a general categorical term for global music, such as the traditional music or folk music of a culture that is created and played by indigenous musicians and is closely related to the music of the regions of their origin. As a pure genre, world music's original intention is to distinguish a complete array of ethnic specificity, though a more globalized 21st century is fast expanding its categorical scope; evidenced by the necessity for less ethnically sterile, hybrid world music artists to be classified under less standardized sub-genres, such as World fusion, Global fusion, Ethnic fusion and Worldbeat. Though these terms may also be considered sub-genres of pop music, they lend to the perception of what defines the scope of world music today, which arguably extends beyond a sphere of discrete and pure ethnic music traditions, defined in the term roots music. World music is inherently one of the broadest music genres, steadily evolving new branch categories, via the discoverable application in its depth and diversity.
How's that for a non-answer? World music is not classical music and it's not mainstream American or European popular music. It's not martial music. It's probably not mariachi music either. It's not Christmas carols. It's not big band. But I don't see why bluegrass wouldn't qualify as world music.
This led to discussion of whether the committee would designate it as a world music festival. Mr. Trost said that there are connections between wellness and world music. Ms. Lennon-Roth and Ms. Stephens also said they had not known what world music is.
There was a discussion of whether experience in organizing a world music festival should be a requirement for the promoter.
The discussion eventually turned to site selection. Ms. Lennon-Roth asked why the high school had not been mentioned as a possible venue. Ms. Stephens agreed that it would be a very good location. Mr. Bradshaw listed the usual objections made by school districts.
Mr. Bradshaw suggested that the promoter should be entitled to first right of refusal for future festivals.
There was some discussion of who would control the future website for the festival. The consensus was the promoter would control it, subject to city oversight.
They agreed to meet the next Wednesday, August 17. The next meeting after that will probably be September 14.
Pentax Optio WG-1 FAIL!
The Pentax Optio WG-1 has been my latest camera acquisition. It was to replace my Canon Powershot D10 which has served me faithfully as a waterproof and dustproof camera for a couple of years. Unfortunately, I loaned the D10 to a friend who was going on a trip to Hawaii, and it was stolen there.
I decided to replace it with the Pentax WG-1 because the Pentax includes image stabilization and high(er) def video. The Pentax, however, simply doesn't live up to its "waterproof" claim. I first tested it at Deep Creek a couple of weeks ago. It seemed to work all right. Then, this past weekend I returned to Mariposa County for another weekend of skinnydipping on the Chowchilla River at the home of Nathan and Per. The camera went into the river a lot of times, but was never roughly handled. It was never deeper than probably 18 inches. It's rated to a depth of 10 meters. I never opened the battery/memory card door during the weekend.
You can imagine my chagrin when, on Sunday afternoon, I brought the camera up to take a photo and saw only fog. I had been carrying the camera on a lanyard around my neck while hiking mostly in the sun. Apparently this had heated it up enough so that water that had somehow leaked into the camera vaporized and began to condense inside the lens and the rear display. Although the camera continued to function, it was useless for actually taking a photo until I had let it sit indoors for a while, cooling off.
I am returning the Pentax to B&H today for a full refund. I've already ordered another Canon D10 to take to Burning Man. Yes, it lacks image stabilization and the video is old-fashioned, but it takes gorgeous photos and IT'S WATERPROOF!
Sight Of Common Man Thrills Communists
According to this AP story Chinese citizens have been "charmed" and excited by a photo of the new American ambassador to China buying his own coffee at Starbucks and wearing his own backpack. The Grand Poobahs of China are accustomed to a retinue of servants to do their menial bidding. Lets hope there are future photos of him washing a car or ordering Chinese take-out. It could lead to a revolution.
Burning Man Party @ Party Lab, Friday Evening
August 16, 2011
Soroptimist House Of Hope 30th Anniversary Party, September 10
September 10, 2011, 11 AM - 2 PM, Skyborne Clubhouse, Desert Hot Springs. Mistress of Ceremonies Lori Albert Gonzalez. Honoring Donors, Staff, Volunteers & Alumni.
RSVP firstname.lastname@example.org 760-835-4576