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April 6, 2010 / Randy Heinitz

This Blog has a new address!

March 23, 2010 / Randy Heinitz

Tempting the Spirit of an Angry Shaman

Tahquitz Canyon is beautiful and right now it’s in full bloom. Wildflowers in yellows, blues and purples are inter-twined with the blossoming vegetation contrasting the reds, greens and pinks. The entire canyon is awash in color and it would be hard not to hike in and take a peek.

That however, according to Native American Cahuilla folklore, is exactly what the banished shaman, Tahquitz, wants you to do. You see, this is his home. Hundreds of years ago, perhaps a thousand, Tahquitz was a well respected shaman diligently taking care of his tribe. As he grew older his powers grew stronger until one day he began to use those powers selfishly and for personal gain. He no longer cared about his tribe and used his powers against them. Tahquitz was banished to this canyon but his spirit did not die. According to legend, Tahquitz remains alive by eating the spirits of the villagers just outside his canyon home. That would be me!

How could I not spend a beautiful Spring day hiking the amazing canyon teasing the immortal occupant with my presence? However, his bait, this amazing canyon with all its wildlife, was so unbelievable it was at times hypnotic. The Brittle Bush with its golden yellow flowers was everywhere as was the blooming Chuperosa (Sucking Rose). The Chuperosa is edible and the nectar is sweet while the flower itself tastes sort of like cucumber.

All this remarkable vegetation and all the amazing rocks and boulders were bound together by the creek flowing through the center. Everywhere I turned the sound of a babbling brook echoed off the canyon walls. I could understand the deadly beauty of the entire area. There are numerous stories of people hiking into the canyon never to return – their souls the dinner of the angry Tahquitz.

Another story has a young Cahuilla maiden being kidnapped from Green Tree pond while she bathed. She was gone for seven years as Tahquitz’ hostage. He released her back to her tribe with the condition she never tells anyone of her ordeal. How though could she resist? She told her story to every tribe member who would listen. The next morning, she was dead. The curse of Tahquitz had come true. I longed to jump into Green Tree pond just to taunt the spirits which might be watching.

Another more modern day story is that Jim Morrison once gave an impromptu concert from a rock ledge overlooking Green Tree pond. I wonder if Tahquitz has his soul?

Tahquitz Canyon is an amazing place and I feel special to have been allowed in. At the back of the canyon a waterfall pours down from 75 feet creating a shaded pool of crystal clear water – a gift of the mountain above.

They say as you walk the path and look up the canyon walls you might often see Tahquitz watching you as he’s waiting for an opportunity to snatch an unknowing soul. As you can imagine I looked up frequently… and yes… it did seem at times that someone might be watching me.

March 19, 2010 / Randy Heinitz

Meeting Michael Weems

Michael Weems Gallery - AutoeroticaSeveral weeks ago while driving downtown I noticed a new storefront that seemed to materialize overnight. A very simple storefront indeed as someone had covered the entire window with a red covering making it impossible to see through although… Yet… There is a peep hole. Yep.. a peep hole. The store is an art gallery called Autoerotica and that name alone summons thoughts a little deviant and slightly risqué but I assumed better thinking the theme centered around exotic sports cars like Ferraris and Lamborghinis. Yet.. there is a peephole.

I told myself over and over and over that I wouldn’t fall victim to the gimmick and I would refrain from looking. Wasn’t I better than that? Didn’t I have the strength not to succumb to such a ploy? Today though, I stopped and looked. Through the hole was a grainy vision of palm trees swaying in the wind and scantily clad women dancing about. It seemed as though it was some sort of bad recording from the sixties and I couldn’t quite make sense of it all. What was the peep hole for? What was it trying to show me and then…  I wanted more. I had to know more. I needed to know what was in there! I forgave myself for my lack of willpower then went inside.

There behind a desk at the rear of the gallery was a man who instantly smiled and said hello. From the instance of his greeting I felt welcomed and somewhat comforted from the confusion created by the peephole just outside. He introduced himself as Michael Weems and we began one of the easiest conversations I have had in ages. He is so personable, so engaging and so friendly. It was easy to like him right off. He showed me his gallery which consisted of one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces, photography and interesting wall pieces derived from old and classic vehicle parts. Truly creative and truly original I found his art to be refreshing and a welcomed deviation from the typical. Because of Michael’s choices of elements and mediums such as photography, rusted metal, chrome, classic cars and Americana, it is only natural that I become a fan.

According to Michael’s own website Michael has now turned his creative vision to metal…Michael has gone back to his roots creating pieces of hand crafted art, one piece at a time.  His discovery of an amazing metal graveyard in the middle of the Southern California Desert raised his conscience about his social responsibility to the environment. “I wanted to be more socially responsible with my art and ecologically friendly by turning something that was old and had served its purpose in one form into a work of art,” says Michael.

We talked for a few minutes longer and then it was time to enter Autoerotica… a separate gallery with its own entrance. I have to say it was as if I fell down the rabbit hole and suddenly I was much smaller than before as all the items in the room seemed to loom larger than life. A fantastic array of photography depicting and recreating Americana unlike any other I’ve seen before. A western shoot out mounted on part of a hood of an old car. Photographs of old abandoned motor inns. Women in half dress in tantalizing pose and manner yet far from pornographic. It has been quite a long time since an artist impressed me but this room, this Autoerotica space, was so captivating that I couldn’t leave. There was so much to see and when looking at particular pieces for a second time they seemed so different from the first viewing.

In addition to this overwhelming feeling of being in a very special creative space, there was Michael. He continued with his engaging conversation and his warm personality made you want to listen to his stories as long as possible. It must be rare to see this man without a swarm of people around him. He exudes an attraction that makes you want to know more about him and because he is able to relay that feeling into his art you want to know more about each individual piece. It’s as if every one of his works has its own special story and its own special path to creation. So interesting is it that there is a sense of wanting to know what that path is!

Visit Michael Weems’ Gallery and Autoerotica. Take the time to truly appreciate the variety of artworks in his studios. Take time to absorb Autoerotica and all that is happening there. It has been a very long time since Palm Springs has experienced something so uniquely different and Michael is a wonderful (and much needed) addition to the downtown landscape.

March 16, 2010 / Randy Heinitz

A Carnivore in Sheep’s Clothing

So my plan is to eat healthier and only eat foods that come from healthy and humane sources. I need to say though, I like meat. I like steak. I like bacon. I like chicken. I like fish. I like all kinds of meat. I eat crawfish and I also eat frog legs. Not only do I eat them but I like them. I like them a lot. But as I talk about changing my diet the subject of vegetarianism always raises its ugly little head. I’m just not ready for something that drastic.

I have found though a little guilty vegan pleasure and I went there again today. I hate to but I have to admit I’m enjoying many vegetarian/vegan dishes. I’ve rediscovered a little café in South Palm Springs called Native Foods. It was founded way back in 1994 by its chef Tanya Petrovna and recently I’ve been dining there quite frequently. I don’t know how she does it but I swear even the heartiest of meat lovers would think these dishes contained meat. The menu is phenomenal.

Their website shares:

Native Foods is an organic/vegan/vegetarian restaurant designed to meet the needs of today’s discriminating, health-conscious diners looking for great-tasting food—for both vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

Native Foods was founded 15 years ago by famous vegan chef, Tanya Petrovna.  Author of two cookbooks (and working on a third!), Chef Tanya has been featured on the Food Network, in many publications and has made many TV and radio appearances.  Native Foods is her vision and she works full-time as its Executive Chef.

Chef Tanya’s roots are firmly grounded in the gourmet world. Chef Tanya was raised in a gourmet household and she helped her father at catering events as a teenager.  In her family, mealtime was a celebration of taste, texture and companionship. Family vacations were global explorations of food and culture – visiting relatives in far off lands and discovering ethnic flavors and traditions.

Her idea for a vegan/vegetarian restaurant came to her at a very young age.  On one of her family vacations on a farm, she met and pet, a dairy cow.  Her love of animals grew!  So Tanya’s quest began:  how to maintain a healthy, balanced, nutritious diet using 100% plant-based foods.  Well, much to Tanya’s delight, she learned that contrary to the fears and concerns of some people that it’s not only possible to live a healthy vegetarian lifestyle, but it’s also healthier for the planet as well as its people.

The result is Native Foods – delicious, healthy, fun food that honors the environment and harms not a single animal in the making.

Chef-crafted is Tanya’s mantra:  fresh and local foods using organic ingredients whenever possible.  Homemade each day.  Her vision:  share the flavor and love with the world–both vegans and non-vegans alike!

Since her first Palm Springs restaurant opening in 1994, Chef Tanya is still serving delicious vegan meals to vegans, vegetarians, omnivores, locavores, anyavores and other taste and health conscious patrons.

So I went to lunch there again today. I’ve been going at least once a week  sometimes twice and I feel slightly guilty about it. It feels sort of wrong and I feel like I’m betraying my carnivorous tribe. But lately I’ve been letting my guard down. Mostly because the clientele is a lot friendlier than I anticipated. I have to be honest as I expected to find a room full of PETA-Terrorists and militant vegans. I thought they’d sniff me out for the meat lover that I am and expose and ridicule me publically. At least that hasn’t happened yet and with every visit it does feel less likely to become a reality.

Every time I go though I re-read the menu and table tents to make sure it truly is a meat free environment. The entrees taste so meaty. Of course after a few bites of my Tijuana Tacos today I re-checked just to make sure and yep… no meat.

I want to offer my congratulations and sincere wishes of continued success to Chef Tanya. She has done something I previously thought impossible. You see…although I have no desire to give up cows or chickens she has made me believe that I actually could. Instead of protesting and confronting those of us who do eat meat she is quietly proving one course at a time that it is indeed possible to enjoy a meat free life. Vegan, Vegetarian or not I highly suggest you give the place a try…  It’s a true adventure in edible flora and fauna.

March 14, 2010 / Randy Heinitz

Spending The Extra Hour of Daylight with Lexie

I love daylight savings time and all that happens because of it. Here in the desert our temperatures are warming up, wildflowers are starting to bloom and the chances of rain seem to lessen and lessen. For me daylight savings time always means more time with my horses. No longer will I wake up in the dark to go to work and come home after sunset. Daylight savings times means Spring is upon us.

During the winter months with colder temperatures, uncooperative weather and repeated rains the horses get neglected. Quite often days will go by when the only contact I have with them is dropping the flakes of hay. Often times I feel guilty for not having the time to spend with them and now that I have moved to a new place the barn does not have electricity. Once the sun has set behind the mountain, all light has gone and so has the chance to spend time with my equestrian best friends.

Today though all that has changed. I can’t remember the last time the horses have been thoroughly groomed and since now I will have time in the evenings to spend outdoors I decided all the horses will have their special day… one by one. Today was for Lexie. Obviously Lexie has spent a lot of time in recent weeks rolling round in the dirt and mud. Although she has begun to shed and has multiple signs of dirt spots on her coat nothing compares to the disastrous shape of her mane. Her mane has become so tangled that it looks as though she has dread locks. Seriously, she has the style of Rastafarian Foxtrotter.

Lexie is a Missouri Foxtrotter. I knew nothing of the breed when I got her but just over five years ago I met a couple who had sold their house and were moving to Hawaii. They had gotten rid of almost everything to make the move except this horse. I didn’t really want her but agreed to take her. That has turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life. Once in the safe compound of The Snickerdoodle Ranch, Lexie quickly bonded with the other horses and bonded with me. In fact, regardless of other horses that have come and gone Lexie has always been the dominant mare since her arrival. To ride a foxtrotter is an amazing experience. No other horse can provide such a smooth and sturdy gait.

Today however was Lexie’s “spa” day. Several hours of grooming and pampering and together we would re-cement our relationship. First was a once over with a shedding blade which sent puffs of Lexie’s gray and white coat floating in the breeze. Many of these airborne meshes of hair went hundreds of feet getting caught in the Palo Verde trees and wild grasses that surround the ranch. After a good brush and curry comb I decided to tackle that mess of a mane.

There was no way around having to cut several inches off to relieve the tangles. I didn’t want to but had to. I like my horses in their natural state. I do not buzz off the whiskers around the nose and I don’t shave bridle paths across their necks. For me a horse cannot be made any more beautiful than nature has already done. But having cut away the snarls I covered both my hands in conditioning gel and started the process of gently running my fingers through her mane. I knew Lexie enjoyed this from years of ownership but to see her relax and sigh while enjoying the gentle tug of her mane was comforting. Conditioning the mane is not a fast process. For nearly an hour I kept adding conditioner and combing the hair with my fingers until my hands ran freely through her mane. Afterwards, I did the same with her tail. I love untangling her tail and Lexie approves as well as noted by her completely relaxed stance. In fact, I do believe she might have even fallen asleep for a minute or two. All horses love a tail massage and it’s the quickest way to relax a stressed equine.

As I added the conditioner to Lexie’s dull tail the individual strands of hair gave way to a multitude of color. From a distance the tail does look gray but up close in the sunlight it’s easy to see the sparkle of silver, white, cream and black combining for an almost chrome sheen. Again, the tail detangling, brushing and conditioning take nearly another hour. Of course, as you might expect, I talk to her through the entire process. My horses know more about me than anyone else and are the only creatures privy to some of my most secret of secrets. Today was no exception as Lexie listened to my dreams, my goals and my hopes. Many of these she’s heard before but she patiently listens again. When I’m finally finished with her coat I clean out her hooves and dress them so they won’t dry out.

She’s stunning in the sunlight. Lexie is a very proud horse. She is one to stand at attention with her head held high with ears that constantly perk to her surroundings. She has a lively step and is never one to lag behind in fact if given the chance, Lexie would always lead a trail ride. She gives off an almost arrogant attitude that is often times too intimidating for a rider unfamiliar with her. Lexie though would never intentionally hurt anyone. She’s a trail blazer, walks through water and over bridges, and seemingly desires to please always. I’m so glad to have her as a friend.

March 14, 2010 / Randy Heinitz

This Ain’t My First Time at The Rodeo!

I love the wild west, all things cowboy and definitely the rodeo. Several years ago I got honest with myself and admitted that true to my redneck roots I am a fan of the western lifestyle. In honor to that proclamation I took a trip to San Diego and attended my first rodeo since childhood days. I have to admit that week-end was extremely memorable and yes… life changing. Since that week-end I have both broke and brokered horses, wrangled on a ranch and have admitted a fond affection for both the fiddle and the banjo. A mere act of self acceptance has led to my country lifestyle today that I now share with four horses.

So it should come as no surprise that when a rodeo was announced in Palm Springs I was excited. Rodeos in smaller towns instill a sense of community with a spirit of competitiveness and offer an arena for all local western equestrian enthusiasts to come together and swap stories. Western music and cowboy poetry give the soundtrack and for one week-end a chance to escape the modern-day trappings.

So I have to say that Palm Springs’ first attempt at a rodeo, The Palm Springs Wild West Fest, in over 17 years appeared to be highly successful. Two stages of continual music, a myriad of vendors offering western wear, home furnishings, music, hats and more filled up the make shift fairground just shy of downtown. Although Palm Springs owes its existence to an equestrian heritage the town’s make up has shifted since then. Palm Springs has become a resort town known for its mid-century modern architecture, contemporary art and trendy nightclubs. Hoe downs and honky tonks are certainly something of the past. It was nice to see them come alive this week-end.

The production of the rodeo itself was flawed, slow and filled with long gaps but I was among friends and we watched as most of the younger inexperienced competitive cowboys missed their marks, bucked up in less than 8 seconds or got caught up on a saddle horn. Since this rodeo is brand new and not much of a stop on the circuit we didn’t get the big names. We didn’t get the current rodeo champions. We got the new guys just fulfilling their duty in the hopes of gaining points and keeping their white card. However it was all good.

I look forward to the next one and I hope all that participated found it worthwhile as I certainly did. Yee Haw!

March 10, 2010 / Randy Heinitz

Self Discovery Leads to Self Care

I used to be entirely health conscious. Extremely health conscious. I watched what I ate and worked out on a regular basis but somewhere along the way life took over and I went on a fitness hiatus. As a result I carry around a few extra pounds and I’m probably a little more tired than I’d like to be. What’s happened lately as I pursue this quest for zest is that I start to like myself more and if that’s the case then I want to treat myself in a more caring way. So this week I have laid the ground work for taking better care of me.

Of course that means diet and exercise but I’m also looking at taking better care of my environment.  Not only do I want to eat better foods but I’d also like to know where those foods come from. As a child in Northern Louisiana I was exposed to agriculture in every direction. Fruits, vegetables, poultry and meats were all raised in the area so when purchasing items at the local grocery I assumed everything was locally grown. Maybe I was right. Maybe I was wrong.

Today however I realize that it is different. I’ve seen clips from Food, Inc. and I know that cows, pigs and chickens are given a steady diet of steroids and artificial additives and live in pretty despicable conditions but I’ve liked remaining in denial about it all. I’ve decided if I’m going to diet and eat correctly then the things I’m eating will also have been raised correctly. What’s wrong with wanting farm raised foods? Isn’t that kind of normal?? Well… at least for a country boy it is.

I’ve spent a lot of time researching this. I know how to nutritionally balance my meals so I can obtain the desired weight loss. I have rearranged my schedule so I can spend time 3 to 4 days a week at the gym. But how do I go about finding farm raised fruits, vegetables and meats? Thank God for Google and the time for a designated Artist Date with my laptop.

I found a website called and it provided a wealth of information. According to that website (which contains information at a national level) our local grocery store, Jensen’s, carries only grass fed beef and they do have free range chickens as well. I’ll have to do my own homework at the store to make sure that the pork doesn’t come from activity restricted pig lots. Trader Joe’s should also be a resource. Locally grown fruits and vegetables are available in season only from farmer’s markets on Thursday nights and Saturday mornings. I was also happily surprised that Salmon purchased at Target stores is caught wild and not farm raised.

I won’t push this philosophy on my friends and I have no desire to jump on a soapbox and start preaching change but I will subtly and quietly implement these ideals into my daily routine.

So this week I’m creating a shift in my thinking and treating myself more healthily and treating our farm animals a little more humanely as well as eating locally grown produce.  If I’m to expect a better life shouldn’t I be doing my part? I’m excited with the prospect of scouting out my healthier diet and getting back on the cardio track! Plus, my 30 year high school reunion will be held next year – Isn’t that motivation enough to look and feel my best?!?