Friday, November 13, 2009


Yesterday was Becky Clark's last day at the helm of the Town Crier. Today is her retirement party.

I started here four years ago and Becky's first admonition to me was to keep my politics and opinions private - that a newspaper reporter's role was to be a neutral "fly on the wall", reporting the story accurately, but not be "in" the story with personal biases or judgments.

We bumped heads a lot that first year - our personalities are similar. She hated my dependent clauses. My writing style was too ornate. We could both have flashes of temper. But through that and succeeding years, she grew a reporter who managed to win some awards. Both the best and worst comments were one's from Becky. "How could you do that? You need to get your facts straight in the story. Now I'll have to run a 'Matter of Fact' correction." Or, far better, "I loved that story!"

I called her "Boss," paying respect to her ability and the facts that she held fast to her convictions, was fiercely loyal to her staff, and absolutely deserved the respect. She did not tolerate bullies of any stripe and held no truck with hypocrisy. She held the First Amendment and the Brown (open government) Act as standards that brooked no compromise.

And her laugh. I could be in a funk in the back of our offices, in the writers' cave, not getting through a story, stuck on a deadline day, and then I'd hear her laugh. And my day would be better. There was a lot of laughing at the Town Crier. I liked the laughter.

For me, it will be hard to come in and not see her sitting in the front office. We built a solid professional relationship. She had patience and helped me grow. I will miss her, and like many things in my life, I did not realize how much until she was almost out the door.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Election Day

Today is Election Day. And for me, since voting for the first time in Maryland in a primary against George Wallace's presidential bid, I have loved this important day in our country's process. I've never cared how friends, family or colleagues voted, just that they voted. Well that's not entirely true, as any of my friends, family or colleagues will probably tell you. I do strongly believe that we protect our freedom by exercising our Constitutional right to vote. I am proud that I live in a community that routinely turns out in greater numbers to vote than those down below.

So on this Election Day, the races I am watching in descending order of importance are in Maine, where there is a ballot initiative to overturn a same sex right to marry passed by the legislature and signed by the governor, the governor's races in New Jersey and Virginia, and a congressional race in upstate New York.

As a political junkie I am enthralled by the dynamic of watching the American electoral process at work. I still feel as I did when I cast my first vote - it is thrilling. I remember actually getting chills when voting for the first time.

Do we as a county always get it right? It depends upon your point of view or political affiliation. What is important is that we are still engaged in this process after two hundred and thirty-three years.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Dinner at the Mountain

On Saturday the 24th, my sister who lives in Calabasas and appreciates fine dining, and I dined at Brian Ayer's Mountain Restaurant. Ayers is Cordon Bleu trained and features "slow food" at his upscale but affordable eatery. Everything at the Mountain is prepared from scratch. "You won't find a can opener or a microwave here," said Ayers who, along with wife Courtney and an accomplished waitstaff, provide a warm and welcoming atmosphere to complement their very fine cuisine.

Before detailing what for both of us was one of our finest meals, here or anywhere, I'll add that we took a great deal of food home. Portions at the Mountain are generous. It is one of those places you go anticipating each entree, each side, each dessert, each bite and leave wishing you had room for and could have eaten more.

Maureen started with Mountain's signature shaved celeriac, fennel and green bean salad with horseradish dressing. I had the heirloom tomato salad with toasted pine nuts, apple balsamic reduction, sheep's milk feta and basil. We shared. For me, the heirloom tomato salad was one of the best food experiences I've had. The apple balsamic reduction perfectly complemented the already lucious tomatoes.

Each of us had a special entree for the night - Maureen had a wonderful halibut and I had venison, both beautifully prepared and presented. My sister thought, from prior experiences that she would not like the venison (too gamey she thought) but after sampling, loved Brian's venison version.

We ordered two sides friends had recommended we try - the organic peas with brown onion gravy (great) and the macaroni and cheese made with aged cheddar and gruyere cheese. Now I am a macaroni and cheese fan. I'll admit to even liking, as most cash strapped college students might admit, Kraft macaroni and cheese. Having said that, Brian's mac and cheese set a new bar - not heavy, wonderfully light, and extraordinarily flavorful. The best!!!

And, as if we weren't already bursting, I insisted on ordering the organic apple pie with vanilla double cream. Brilliant!!!

Salads were $7; entrees generally range from $18 to $28 (there is a Thursday evening local special for $16 that is a meal in itself).

Although the Mountain has been doing well, as well it should, Brian and Courtney are a bit worried about the coming winter and whether business will be sufficient to support the kind of dining experience they provide.

If you care about this restaurant and these good folks who have chosen Idyllwild for their venture, please support them as well as you can throughout the winter. We and they deserve that Mountain be successful.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mountain Restaurant Winemaker's Dinner, Sept. 30

Already generating the kind of buzz reserved for the best of fine dining restaurants in chic sophisticated metro areas, Chef Brian Ayers' Mountain Restaurant in Idyllwild hosted the first Winemaker's Dinner on Wednesday, Sept. 30, at 6:30. Internationally pedigreed Chilean winemaker Cristobal Undurraga of Koyle Vineyards, whose family has been making wine in Chile for over 100 years, presented the evenings' wines, delightfully detailing the process of making them and highlighting their unique qualities.

Ayers, wife Courtney, wait staff and assisting chefs Carl and Shannon, generated applause and approving murmurs of digestive approval with each of the five courses of the degustation size plates presented to a capacity crowd of expectant diners. It felt like theater - the anticipation, the first taste of each entree, the looks of amazement after that first bite, the excited communication to your tablemates of what you were experiencing, and the mental reminder to slow down and savor each moment, made the 2 and a half hour dining experience the consummate expression of what "slow food" is all about.

For it is not just the food, exquisite as it was, or the wines, as excellently as they complimented the courses, it is the idea of relishing the food, your tablemates, the conversation, and the delight of sharing a meal - a quintessentially civilizing experience - that makes "slow food", an international movement to counter fast food, so important. Experiencing "slow food" takes those of us old enough to remember back to a time when we as families sat together around a table, ate together, talked together, and spent meaningful time together. Maybe then it was not cuisine of the excellence that Mountain serves, but it was a time of sharing that we, as a culture, are losing.

So it was that Becky and Jack Clark, Ray and Corrine Brown, Vanessa Rivera Del Rio and her husband Jason Hlebakos, Grace Reed and I sat together, laughed togther, ate and drank together, and, importantly, shared an experience that we will savor for some time to come.

Here is the menu:

Rosemary marinated swordfish medallions over spaghetti squash with arugula pesto sauce accompanied by a sophisticated Savignon Blanc.

Game hen cooked two ways with sauteed spinach , fresh summer peach and tarragon chutney and a distinctive Chardonnay.

Lamb loin slow roasted with olives served over potato (the most amazing potato puree) with a sherry and marjoram vinaigrette. The wine, a red, was a Carmeniere.

Char-grilled beef tenderloin with Jerusalem artichoke puree and traditional Bordelaise sauce, graced by a lovely Cabernet Sauvignon.

A chocolate and coconut creme brulle accompanied by french press Batdorf and Bronson coffee.

At the beginning of the evening, Brian, Courtney, Cristobal, Brandon Lee of Quintessential Wines in Napa, and the wait staff greeted diners as they came in. At the end of the evening, Brian, Carl and Shannon circulated among the diners to pay their respects and say good evening.

Was it a hit? Oh yes!

Something to note - Brian and Courtney want this restaurant to be local-friendly. The portions on the regular menu are large and reasonably priced. Each Thursday there is a locals' special, at a feature price of around $16. Although this was my first time at the Mountain, many locals at the Winemaker's Dinner had already been there 3 or 4 times.

May Brian, Courtney, Justin and all who work to provide this venue its gracious, unpretentious, and warmly welcoming atmosphere, with some of the best food in the Southland, succeed beyond their wildest expectations. They deserve it. And what an honor to have this restaurant in Idyllwild.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Kicking off a board member for being independent

Sad. Recently a friend, whom I admire, was kicked off a board of directors of a local non-profit, for not conforming, according to him and certain others, to the prevailing orthodoxy of the board Chair and those of like agreement.

His apparent crime - thinking independently, looking into past instances of what could be considered sloppy board management, and putting together, as he was asked to do by the board Chair, a committee of heavyweights commissioned because of their resumes not friendships. Worst of all, he took his issues with board management to the press rather than the board, because he believed the board, and specifically the Chair, would be unresponsive.

Another member of the board, whom I also admire, spoke privately of the need, on any board, for healthy disagreement and the ability to freely discuss issues of interest to the board without recrimination. And yet, when the vote came to dismiss this apostate board member "without cause," the vote was unanimous. Another board member, whom I also admire, was absent at this meeing and a previous meeting at which a move to dismiss this same troublesome board member "for cause" died aborning.

Whistleblowers play a valuable function in our society and they are often castigated, cast aside, and even,in the worst of cases, disposed of for their failure to keep their disagreements with prevailing orthodoxy private and "in house."

It is always a casualty, and in this case it may turn out to harm the objectives of the non-profit and prove disadvantageous to the town.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Cottonwood Fire - Day 2

I'll be blogging about the "personal" side of the Cottonwood Fire and how it is affecting local residents and businesses. First, I am listing Mountain Disaster Preparedness' twelve things to have ready to grab when you're ordered to evacuate:

1. A minimum of one week supply of any medications you need to stay alive;

2. Extra glasses or contacts if needed to see, read, or drive safely;

3. At least one large bottle of drinking water and a couple energy bars per person;

4. Copies of your property and auto insurance policies and the phone number for their claims offices;

5. Photos of the inside and outside of your home and garage, and any outbuildings, as well as any vehicles that will be left behind during an evacuation. Take the photos now, get them developed right away, and keep them updated as your buildings, vehicles, and contents can change;

6. Current medical records and copies of your health insurance card(s);

7. Passport and or driver's license or other photo ID (Note: if your ID address is NOT the same as the home you'll be returning to following evacuation - for example, your P.O. Box - also keep a copy of a recent utility bill in your name that shows that service address or you may not be allowed through the check point(s);

8. Birth certificate(s) - especially your children's (if your home is burned, you may have to enroll them in a new school);

9. Military records, if needed for VA or DOD reporting or claims;

10. Copies of any important papers or documents (mortgage, credit cards, recent bank statements, investment accounts, Social Security documents - whatefer you'll need to continue your life away from your home for several days or weeks);

11. Irreplaceable personal papers and family photos. Only you know what these are;

12. Your computer backup on an external hard-drive or flash-drive.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Free press and forms of censorship

In a response to a recent post by my editor about censorship in hard economic times, one reader commented that since Idyllwild is "primarily a resort and vacation town" negative headlines, such as the current one about the likely failure of Guaranty Bank do not make a good impression. On whom?

We are a town with an increasing number of full time residents. Our job is to cover and print the news putting the most important stories on our front page. Our job is not to make a "good impression" on tourists and visitors. For that you have a Chamber of Commerce and various local businesses whose job IS to make a good impression on tourists and visitors. We are not a PR organ for Idyllwild tourism. We are a newspaper. The Guaranty Bank story is important to those of us who live here and bank at the branch. It is a story here and in the LA Times, Dallas Herald, CNN, Fortune and many other publications that have written essentially the same story about the imminent failure of a bank. And it's of major concern to that bank's customers.

Last week we featured a story about the local production of "The Wizard of Oz" on the front page - a "feel good story." We do vary our front story page placement. Some readers, including the person who posted the comment on the Wild Idys blog site, continue to insist that we should be printing only "good" news. If negative things did not occur and have importance as news to those of us who live here, we would not have to report them.

As to censorship, the editor was referring to "economic" censorship that comes in the form of withdrawing advertising or subscriptions if we exercise our first amendment rights - printing letters to the editor, cartoons, even ads that some may disagree with. Our job is to be fair in exercising our first amendment rights. As to letters to the editor, we print a broad spectrum, none of which do we as editorial staff necessarily agree with personally.

Without a strong and vibrant print press, what liberties we continue to have as a free people will atrophy and wither.

Read. Champion a free press. And please try to understand the difference between a newspaper and public relations agency. Public relations agencies make a lot more money.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Idyllwild, Brigadoon, art and contracts

In Brigadoon, a town in the Highlands of Scotland that magically reappears in present time for one day every hundred years, a local sculptor was hired by town luminaries to sculpt a statue of the town minister. The minister, knowing that the town was being threatened by witches and demons, went beyond the town to pray for a miracle to preserve his town. The miracle that God granted made the town vanish into the Highland mists. For residents, each new day was just that, another new day. But in reality, each day was 100 years later. The minister had sacrificed himself and had saved the town thereby preserving its idyllic way of life.

The local sculptor signed a contract for a set fee to create the statue of the minister . He agreed to complete it by a certain festival date and to supply all materials that would be needed to create his work of art. Townspeople donated to the cause and looked forward to the unveiling.

The date for the festival and unveiling came and went. The sculptor insisted that town luminaries had agreed, prior to his signing the contract, to quarry and provide the stone for the sculpture. Town luminaries insisted that the contract spoke for itself and that they had made no side agreement prior to the signature of the contract. Some local men volunteered to quarry the stone. They delivered it to the sculptor who complained that it was not quite what he wanted and needed in order to complete this definitive work of his career. The sculptor kept adding to the project, stating that he wanted to fashion a work of art that the whole world would come to see. When town luminaries pointed out that the whole world would have a difficult time getting to Brigadoon given its isolation and the nature of the "miracle," the sculptor scoffed, holding fast to his vision. Consequently, the price for the statue continued to go up, and local donors and town luminaries began to worry if it would ever be finished and whether obtaining a finished product might bankrupt the town's meager coffers.

As of this writing, the standoff continues. The sculptor continues to work at his own pace, observing that the stone he was provided was of poor quality, that his vision for the project suffers as a consequence, that it could take years to complete the statue, and that it might be better to start over with proper stone. Because of the "miracle," each day of delay in completing the statue of the minister, is 100 years in real time. So it would not be hyperbole to say that it might take an eternity to complete a project that donors and town luminaries had hoped to have had in place years before as a tribute to and celebration of the minister, his miracle, and .

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Deciding what to include

When I was 21 I worked as a copy boy, then news clerk and weekend secretary for the managing editors of the New York Times as they put the paper together. I got to sit in on their deliberations about what to include in the edition, how much prominence it should have, and of course what the lead stories were to be. It was a heady and exciting experience to be in the same city room with some of the NYT greats, as well an opportunity to listen to the weekend deliberations of the publisher and editors.

Which brings me to the sometimes difficult personal task of deciding what to include or not to include in articles I write for our award winning little paper.

So today, I'm musing over two recent articles and some choices I (we, with my editor) made for our last edition. Generally, in putting any article together, I have more copy than I can use. We are limited to 3 pages per article, so unless we're doing a series, it means a lot gets left in the notebook that doesn't make it onto the printed page.

When we received, from a reliable source, a copy of an e mail the new president of the Chamber of Commerce was sending to his new board - an e-mail that seemed to restrict informational access not only to the press (at which restrictions seemed largely targeted), but also to the general public, Chamber members, and even other Chamber board members - there was a division within our editorial staff. Some contended that we should print the e mail with no comment at all, let the president likely damn himself with his own words, and let the public make its own evaluation. Others felt that some outside comment would focus attention on what seemed to us to be an in-your-face clampdown on the free flow of information and power grab by the new president. I was particularly troubled by the new president's edict that he be the sole press contact. That in itself is not so unusual. Even public boards sometimes appoint a press contact person. But the press still uses whatever means it can to get the story. What bothered me most, was that Carlson actually forbade other board members from speaking to the press at all. George Orwell in "Animal Farm" would have had fun riffing on that. In the end, we decided to print the e mail and include outside comment from two sources who looked at the legality of what Carlson is proposing (it's legal per se) as well as the appearance of his actions and how they might play out in this small town.

Since I wrote the article, it's obvious I came around to the second position, but after reflection (and of course after the paper had been put to bed), I felt the first position might have been more effective and might better have served the community's interests.

Time will tell. The reason for blogging this is to provide a window into the deliberative process that accompanies many if not all articles - what to include and what to leave out - what best serves the public's interest and keeps them informed.

In the other article, one about the Animal Rescue Friends of Idyllwild, there are very definitely two sides squaring off over the appointment of a new director, an appointment the long time shepherd of ARF, Jane Stonehill, vehemently opposes. The present board, only one of whom served on the board during the new director's previous association with ARF, protested that they are doing good for the community and that there was no need to bring up Stonehill's opposition to the appointment, since, regardless of her long association, significant investment of heart and capital, and passion about the organization she long headed, she was no longer involved and therefore should have no public airing of her views. Was Stonehill's oppposition newsworthy? Should we do an article and include it? We determined it was.

Again, the question in writing the ARF article, as it was with the Chamber article, was what to include and what not to include - what is legitimately newsworthy and what is less so.

So, I think back to being 21 and being on the (I think) 6th floor of the old NYT building on weekends as the publisher and editors weighed what to include and what to exclude - what was important and what was not quite so important. Sometimes you get it right and you're happy. Sometimes you don't and you kick yourself. And sometimes, like today, you're not completely sure.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Public Art in Idyllwild

With installation of "Girl Reading a Dickens Book", a metal sculpture by local artist Dore Capitani from drawings by Jan Jaspers-Fayer, Idyllwild takes a step toward becoming known as a town resplendent with what is a rarity in the western United States - public art.

I grew up in Maryland just across the district line from Washington, D.C. a public art capital. Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, and Saint Louis have squares with statuary, and parks graced with public art.

But as one moves west from Saint Louis, it becomes more difficult to find commemorative statures or public art on display in cities or towns. Like fireflies, public art never seemed to make the trek across the Rockies.

Of course there are exceptions, but in general it's rare to find a stature or public sculpture, and, especially as one raised in the East, I have always found that curious.

So, hats off to Capitani and Jaspers-Fayer, and good wishes to David Roy for speedy completion of his work of public art. Hopefully in the not too distant future, Idyllwild will have a marketing niche unique in Riverside County - an art capital where great statuary, sculpture and carvings are publicly placed for the free enjoyment of residents and tourists.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Triplett to leave Chamber

Bill Triplett, president of the Idyllwild Chamber of Commerce, will not serve again as board president and will not sit on the board once the new board is installed in July. That is a shame since Triplett has been a fair and activist board president. He ran meetings in a clean and impartial way, and did not use the Chamber as an ongoing platform to promote his own business interests. Of all recent presidents, Triplet, in my years of covering the Chamber, is the only president to routinely go out to member businesses to canvas for issues of concern to members and to gauge the business pulse of the town.

As of this writing, according to Triplett, Joe McNabb and Mona Taggart will not serve on the new board. Steve Zaccardi and Robert Garcia may have issues with time committment to Chamber business and may not choose to be installed. That leaves Ken Carlson, Mimi Lamp and Richmond Blake as sole directors, if Triplett's predictions prove true.

No matter who is on the board, the Chamber will face an uncertain future, since money from the county, usually in the 20 to 30 thousand annual range, is doubtful given the county's current economic crisis.

Triplett has been publicly lauded by the Chamber board for his service, activism, and committment to bettering the town's business climate. He will be missed.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Let Freedom Ring

Monday morning “deadline” day – This is the morning that I look at my list of stories I’m supposed to write for the July 9 edition and make phone calls to get remaining interview data for the articles, make sure I have all the pictures I need for the articles, and begin writing. Although we (the writing staff) have until noon Tuesday to finish writing all assigned and/or breaking articles, much if not most of it gets done today.

I’m thinking, because of the 233rd anniversary of our republic and having spent the July 4th holiday with my family in the Channel Islands area of Oxnard, how important it is to live in a country where dissent is tolerated and sometimes celebrated and police do not, as a general practice, raid homes and haul family members off to prison for speaking out against certain practices of the government.

When I practiced law as an international attorney, a practice that centered on federal law, I had many Iranian clients. This was immediately after the 1979 Iranian revolution and my clients included many Iranian Bahais, Jews, members of the Shah’s military and their families, and a cross section of Iranian dissidents. I met many of them in Pakistan where they had paid to be “smuggled out” of Iran, through the desert, by professional smugglers. The deprivations they suffered in the trip were often serious. One man, who was smuggled out with his wife and young daughter, lost his mental faculties on the trip and arrived in Karachi a burnt out and wasted man, virtually useless to his family. It was heartbreaking to see.

I think of these many good Iranians with whom I dealt over a ten year period until the continent hopping and often dicey situations I experienced forced me to rethink my then career. Like the crowds in Berlin, Prague, and Bucharest prior to the fall of Communism, cities I in which I often appeared representing clients seeking entry into the U.S. and freedom from oppression, I think of the crowds in Teheran who bravely stood up to the recent post election repression and brutality. And even though the protests have been effectively put down, each night they still chant “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) from their windows and balconies in protest against the growing repression of their regime. I hope for them that they too will gain some measure of political freedom. Since most of the Iranian population was born after the 1979 revolution, there is hope that those not bound by the doctrinaire rigidity of their theocracy, will lead a new generation to enjoy what it is we in the United States so often take for granted – the freedom to believe, speak, gather, associate and dress as they wish, and not be assailed as enemies of the state for so doing.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Idyllbeast sightings at Café Aroma

Friend of Idyllbeast, “researcher” David Jerome holds “positive” proof of a May visit of the reclusive beast. Jerome made plaster casts of the beast’s footprints in front of Café Aroma, where he roped off the scene with yellow caution tape to protect it from intrusive restaurant customers.
Photo by Becky Clark

In writing Idyllbeast, the assignment was to have fun with the piece. I did, and I hope readers found it fun as well. The approach I took in no way was meant to diminish Native American tribal legend about a local Bigfoot-like creature, if, as one reader suggests, there is such a body of information. It was also not meant to discount the experiences or beliefs of those who feel strongly about the existence of Bigfoot-like creatures that may have existed or still exist in the high San Jacintos. The article was intended to be like a jazz riff - designed to pull you in for the pleasure of it.

Tall, dark, hairy, shy, likes music

By Marshall Smith
Staff Reporter

David Jerome has beast on the mind. Idyllbeast to be precise. He is hoping that the reported 98th annual Idyllbeast Festival, to be held at Café Aroma on Saturday July 4th from 9 a.m. till 4 p.m. may lure the curious, but famously shy, hairy apelike bipedal hominoid to the bistro environs. More to the point, he is hoping the holiday music and wafting garlic aromas prove irresistible to a creature that hikers have reported smells of garlic and cinnamon and has been heard doing a mean Aretha Franklin imitation – or so he’s heard.

Jerome reports backcountry hikers occasionally report encounters with things they can’t explain. Of course, Jerome acknowledges, that is also true in town, but that’s a different story. Jerome has heard reports that some Native Americans have an oral history recounting a Bigfoot-like creature in the high San Jacintos. To local tribes, the 7 to 9 foot tall ape/man creature was just another spirit brother who liked to join in at any tribal ceremony that featured dancing. Apparently the creature kept to himself and seldom entered the settlement except when ceremonial drums and chanting started. The beast reportedly never sang or chanted, but danced enthusiastically.

When whites started settling the mountain, the beast retreated. Whites feared the beast and tried to drive him away when sighted. Once television become ubiquitous, Hill residents began reporting hairy faces at their windows, transfixed by television images, especially when Aretha Franklin sang.

Jerome thinks Idyllbeast, as locals have named it, wants to participate in modern Idyllwild ceremonies just as he did with Native Americans. “Music is a universal language,” said Jerome. “The beast just wants to be loved, and music may be its way in.” Idyllbeast cousin Bigfoot is known for “strong vocalizations,” according to a report of a Montana sighting by Andrea Lutz, KPAX, Missoula.

Jerome hasn’t seen the beast, but he has seen its footprints. A sighting of beast footprints just in front of the Café bolsters Jerome’s hopes of luring the beast to Café Aroma on the fourth. Jerome, himself a musician, is growing more hair in order to make the beast feel less out of place if he shows up. “I’m letting my beard grow for it,” he said enthusiastically. “We’re also awarding fur crowns to attending women who represent the furry flower of Idyllwild femininity.” Jerome is hoping that the more hair in evidence at the beastacle, the less the beast will feel different, out of place, and unwelcome.

“It’s time for welcoming Idyllbeast,” said Jerome. Sure he or, as Jerome puts it, “Heidibeast” might be different from us, but deep down we and the beast share more than separates us – a love of music and garlic, both staples at Aroma.

For further Idyllbeast festival information, contact Café Aroma at 659-5212 or

Marshall Smith can be reached at

I just read you article and wanted to pass something on in case you might be interested. I assume you have heard of Tahquitz. Certainly you have if you are native to Palm Springs or vicinity. I once had a job in the City of Palm Springs which required excavation. Since it was owned by the native American Tribe, some elders came to the site and made a tribute to Tahquitz before I was allowed to dig. Their description of it and its resemblance to Bigfoot fascinated me so I went to the library and found a book on Shashone religion and confirmed what they said. It also attributed ball lightning to Tahquitz which obviously may be just due to the earthquake pressure zone there pressurizing quartz and providing a regional piezoelectric effect (I am a geologist if that wasn’t obvious). In the Shoshone religion, Tahquitz was said to live in a cave by Lily Rock near the town of Idylwild. Tahquitz was said to be a very large hairy cannibal that stunk really bad, was nocturnal and had very loud screams. Anyway, I thought I would share that tidbit of information since your article discussed local bigfoot reports which I had never heard before. Regards, Jim Zenor.