By Allen David
There was a lot of heart-palpitating tension in the air of some United States cities as they waited for the American Lung Association’s annual list of the country’s worst places to breathe. Not so much in Riverside. After decades of experience with air that’s highly rank—and highly ranked—residents seem pretty sure of a high finish. On particularly polluted days they exude a near-motionless calm, inhaling and exhaling so shallowly that sometimes it’s hard to say if they are breathing . . . or even alive. Tension in the air? Why should they care? The American Lung Association only considers ozone, year-round particle pollution and short-term particle pollution when prioritizing its list.
Heart palpitations? That’s an effect, not a cause.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 24
Oh, almost forgot to report the results. Riverside left no doubt about the triple threat its air poses to the survival of most living things. Running as an entry with Los Angeles and Long Beach, Riverside finished No. 1 in the country for its level of ozone, was third in year-round particle pollution and fourth in short-term particle pollution. Yes, the ongoing toxicity of Riverside’s air is depressing, calling into question what kind of quality—of length—will ever be available to locals, even if they eventually overcome the recession, the housing meltdown, the unemployment rate . . . whatever. Despite all that, Riverside can’t even brag it’s got America’s worst air. That’s in Bakersfield and Delano, which were third in ozone levels, but first in both year-round particle pollution and short-term particle pollution. Road trip!
FRIDAY, JANUARY 25
The lineups for the 2013 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival are announced, and some people might be feeling like chumps for buying their tickets last June.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 26
If there’s a problem with Coachella 2013, it starts at the top—the headliners are Blur and Stone Roses on Friday, Phoenix on Saturday and the Red Hot Chili Peppers on Sunday. But does this indicate a boring booker, or a dearth of headliner-quality bands? When I think about it, I’m not sure there are very many other bands more deserving.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 27
Here are other things that, when I think about them, I’m not sure about: Has anyone really made any music for the past 10 years? Should I be thankful they didn’t add Beyoncé or Justin Timberlake? Why do I enjoy rocking out while amped up on phytonutrients?
MONDAY, JANUARY 28
Oh, one more: Go to Coachella in April or wait until June and the expanded music program at the Ink-N-Iron Festival on the Queen Mary in Long Beach?
TUESDAY, JANUARY 29
The City of Eastvale has its swagger on again—its blather, too—and you just can’t help but look and listen, although you hate encouraging such displays in a two-year-old. Yep, when Eastvale turns it on like this, it’s hard to believe the city won’t turn three until late summer . . . hard to remember it barely survived birth during the housing meltdown and the state’s budget crisis . . . and hard to know whether that smell is left over from the not-so-long gone dairy farms, or if Eastvale simply isn’t potty trained. Meanwhile, Eastvale can’t wait to grow up. It has a big plan for the City Council, Planning Commission and Public Safety Commission to collaborate on a . . . um . . . big plan . . . the Strategic Plan. City spokesperson Michele Nissen elaborates: “It will answer the question: ‘Where do we want to be in five years.’” Councilwoman Kelly Howell elaborates more: “This is huge! We’ve got our infrastructure set. Now let’s get started planning for Eastvale’s future.” Howell says the Strategic Plan is a route to a “brand” for Eastvale—that is, what the city wants to be known for. City officials also intend to meet with property owners, developers, nonprofit groups, school districts, service providers and plain ol‘ residents. Wow! I’ve got to admit you’re impressed . . . and I would have admitted it, too. But Eastvale kept talking, and pretty soon was talking about putting in a Walmart. Actually, it’s more than talk. Planning Director Eric Norris told The Press-Enterprise his staff has been working for months on a project known simply as “a major retail store.” But, Norris added, “They’ve recently started putting Walmart on their paperwork.” What else is on that paperwork? The proposed Walmart’s 177,535 square feet, its range of departments—retail, grocery, vision and hearing center, photo finishing, banking, a salon—and its operating hours: all 24 of every day.