TUESDAY, JANUARY 9
The Big Bear Airport Board finally gets back to full, five-man strength, nearly two months after one of its members died . . . in a plane crash. No, that’s not funny, even though the guy’s name was Bob McNutt. What’s funny is that it took almost two months to pick McNutt’s successor, because the process literally consisted of pulling names out of a hat. Yep. The names of five candidates were placed in a hat, two were drawn at a time, the board voted on the two, and the winner remained in the running. The process was repeated until Gary Steube emerged the winner.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 10
I file a late addendum to my list of New Year’s resolutions: Never fly into Big Bear Airport.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 11
Promoters update the lineup for the first edition of Stagecoach, the country cousin of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, and it’s even better than everybody thought. In addition to the likes of Lucinda Williams, the Flatlanders, George Strait, Willie Nelson, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Ricky Scaggs, the new list of performers includes Emmylou Harris, Alan Jackson, Kris Kristofferson and Brooks & Dunn. The whole kit and caboodle includes 50 acts on four stages spread across the Empire Polo Field in Indio on May 5 and 6—one week after the three-day Coachella music fest and all its cutting-edge electronica and rock unfolds in the same place. On one hand, the addition of another mega-music invasion sounds like it could be a little taxing for the residents of Indio. But on the other hand, it’ll probably be a welcome breath of fresh air to have a bunch of people wearing cowboy hats, boots and big belt buckles, giving lassoing demonstrations, attending trail-boss seminars and talking in rough-hewn language inflected with down-home twangs—you know, after enduring all of the Coachella festival’s posers.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 12
A bunch of volunteers calling themselves the Soap Mine Road Citizens for Responsible Development point out a few problems with a 495-home project that had been initially approved by the officials at Barstow city hall who get paid and/or elected to catch this stuff. The development now goes back to the drawing board to address problems like . . . the houses sitting atop high-pressure pipelines in an area where the Mojave River flows during heavy rain; houses unable to connect to the city sewer system, and concerns that more septic tanks would further contaminate the ground water already heavy with nitrates, probably because of the millions of gallons of sewage treatment plant water used to irrigate alfalfa fields; and increased traffic along the only road in and out of the area delaying emergency response vehicles. How did developers from Pacific Holt originally get this disaster-waiting-to-happen past the city? Easy! They submitted an Environmental Impact Report prepared for a proposed golf course on the property.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 13
The first Martha Stewart-inspired home development in the west opens today in a new Perris neighborhood dubbed “Olive Grove” by builders KB Homes, and analysts expect quite a bit of interest among people who desperately hope and pray that living in a place with a name brand, functional design, perfect color schemes and iconic symbols of stability and values will hide the utter meaninglessness of their lives. That, and anybody facing a stint under house arrest for lying to government officials investigating possible insider trading in their suspicious sale of stock. Martha Stewart didn’t show up for the grand opening, of course. In Perris? Get real. But her spirit—the indomitable spirit of a woman so arrogantly out of touch that she compared herself to Nelson Mandela after her 2004 conviction—was everywhere. You could see that spirit in details like the picture-frame molding, the open shelving and the wainscoting . . . oh, could you ever see it in the wainscoting. And you could sense it in the marketing expertise it took to figure out that Perris would be the perfect place to impress people by telling them that their cookie-cutter tract homes were “inspired” by Martha Stewart’s mansions in Connecticut, Maine and Bedford, New York—that last one is where she served her house arrest! Then again, the development was test-marketed in North Carolina, in a suburb of Raleigh, which we’re pretty sure is code for Mayberry, although it could be Mount Pilot.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 14
Palm Desert pays tribute to its place in history—back in the 1960s, it became the first city in America to make golf carts street legal—with its annual Golf Cart Parade, in which traffic is slowed to speeds navigable by aging citizens with failing senses and reactions. So what makes this day different from any other? The golf carts are decorated! Also? The more than 25,000 people who are watching in stunned amazement are not screaming hateful epithets or resolving anew to take away their parents’ drivers licenses. No, this is a day to honor Palm Desert’s roots—its withering, gnarled roots—by taking a moment to enjoy a good laugh at the colorfully-decorated golf carts putt-putting down the town’s main thoroughfare. There are all kinds of tangential events, too, such as a pancake breakfast, a demonstration of driving with a left-turn blinker permanently engaged, and a contest to see which old lady can hold up a supermarket checkout line the longest by searching her coin purse for exact change.
MONDAY, JANUARY 15
Screaming hateful epithets at old drivers resumes in Palm Desert.