Step by Step Dance Studio

Dance With Me

Instructor Isa Lapaj has an abiding grace, a worldly outlook, and a formidable intellect, and he brings it all to the dance lesson.

Ellen Alperstein Arts & Entertainment

Several couples pair up for their tango lesson at Step by Step Dance Studio in Palm Springs. A 10-year-old proffers his hand to a grandmother; two Marines from Twentynine Palms stand at attention, ready for maneuvers at the order of instructor Isa Lapaj. The native Albanian, who has called the Coachella Valley home since 1980, has an abiding grace, a


Special Delivery

For Salvador Camarena, 
wrapping a gift is a work of art.

Ellen Alperstein Arts & Entertainment

CAMEO As a kid, Salvador Camarena would sit on the toilet lid in his Indio home while his mother primped in the bathroom mirror before a night on the town with his father. The young boy liked to watch her construct a look that was singularly hers, choosing an outfit, applying her makeup, styling her hair. He studied how she


Paul McCartney Plans Pappy & Harriet’s Stop Tonight

Desert Trip duo kick Trump off the lead news report.

Ellen Alperstein Arts & Entertainment

Musical giants have settled into the Coachella Valley this month to perform at Desert Trip last weekend and again this weekend. Today, major announcements about two of them were made, and we are knocking on heaven’s door with excitement. The global news, of course, is that today, poet/singer/troubadour Bob Dylan, who will appear at the Empire Polo Club in Indio


The Plant Manager

The desert is too dry, too hot, 
too rocky to grow food naturally. Isn’t it?

Ellen Alperstein Restaurants

NATURE A forest is primeval. A forest is lush. A forest is enchanted. A forest is not desert. But on a half-acre lot in a quiet residential neighborhood in Rancho Mirage, a forest has taken root and is starting to thrive. It’s not a woodland wilderness filled with tall, creaking trees filtering angled sunlight through densely sprouted arms with nymphs

bighorn sheep_watermark

Bighorn Boosters

You can participate in the Bighorn Institite helicopter census of sheep this fall.

Ellen Alperstein Attractions

Recently, biologists including Bighorn Institute Associate Director Aimee Byard (pictured at right) began visiting local schoolrooms and interacting more frequently with the public in the hope of cultivating citizen scientists. They stage periodic scoping sessions on the overlook behind Rancho Mirage City Hall, invite outdoorspeople to use the interactive iNaturalist app to log incidental sheep sightings, and conduct small group

bighorn sheep

The Hills Are Alive

Peninsular bighorn sheep are superbly adapted to their mountainous desert home. Bighorn Institute is finding success helping humans become better neighbors.

Ellen Alperstein Watch & Listen - Attractions

NATURE Six hikers shade their eyes and squint toward rocky folds and craggy outcroppings a few hundred feet away along the steep southern face of Oswit Canyon. A couple of them peer through binoculars, scanning the hot, dry, inhospitable hillside. Although it seems just desolate desert, this neighborhood is deceptively vibrant. It’s home to a complicated ecosystem that includes lifeforms

Melting ice cream cone

Cold Gold

The noble Hawaiian heritage of Lappert’s Ice Cream gives its desert provider leverage to expand his fun food fortune.

Ellen Alperstein Restaurants

FOOD One summer when I was in high school, I worked at a Tastee Freez where the soft-serve ice cream was a stream of goo pumped into a cone as a platform for the chemically enhanced dipping chocolate that solidified around it in a flash. It looked — and tasted —like plastic. I ate some practically every shift. My youthful

Bird Is the Word

Are pigeons desecrating the vintage Brown Jordan outdoor furniture? Are angry geese chasing you down the golfcart path? Prey for a solution.

Ellen Alperstein Golf 0 Comments

The newest staff member of Winged Solutions, a pest control company, is a winsome, delicate creature.. But looks can be deceiving. Ariel kills for a living.


Sexism Is Sad

It’s also corrosive, divisive, and wrong. Why does it endure?

Ellen Alperstein Tennis 0 Comments

Today I’m sad. Sad because the male default remains so reflexively rooted in the human condition that it’s nothing less than primal.