See that picture up there? Yeah, that’s me and Bruce Fessier saying a few words on stage before the Tachevah concert that happened for a few years between Coachella weekends. Sadly, Tachevah is no longer a thing and soon that will also be the case for Bruce’s work at the Desert Sun – and that is going to be a huge loss for the Coachella Valley.
It’s rare now that anyone stays at one job or company for five years, let alone 40, but Bruce did – and we are all better for it. The news of Bruce’s departure next month became official this week and the desert will never be the same.
Now, sure, I consider Bruce a friend, so I am a bit biased, but the thing about Bruce is that the guy could cover Coachella one weekend and an old lady fashion show the next and some local rock band that only he had heard of in between and not miss a beat. It’s remarkable, really, how one guy could be so connected in the desert and have so much knowledge of desert history in one brain – and then turn around and use that to tell the stories that, often, no one else was telling.
I met Bruce 20 years ago when I was a young punk doing morning radio on the long-gone M99.5 alternative radio station. About a month into the job, Bruce mentioned me in his column. I learned this on a Sunday morning when the radio station owner called me on my one day to sleep in to let me know that Bruce had somehow found the show (we didn’t have any money to promote it) and, more surprising, he actually liked it.
I reached out to Bruce to be a guest on the show and, to my surprise, he accepted and HE BROUGHT DOUGHNUTS! That was the first of many times Bruce was a guest and that’s because he was a great guest. He knew freakin’ everything going on from a local playhouse putting on a show this weekend, to anything and everything Elvis did back in the day in Palm Springs to who was playing the side stage at Stagecoach this year to recommending some weird art-house French film coming to the local film fest. It’s seriously amazing and, as someone also in the desert and writing things, it’s infuriating.
And unlike so many, Bruce never mailed it in. Rare would I have a chance to talk to him for longer that two minutes at any function because he would have to dash off to some far corner to see a performance or conduct an interview or plug his cord in because clearly he is a robot because no human works this hard or knows this much.
I haven’t been on the radio in some time now, but Bruce and I have kept in touch and every so often grab a bite to catch up – which is basically me picking his brain about what’s happening in the desert for 60 minutes in exchange for me paying for his Tony’s burger every other time – which is a hell of a bargain.
It’s rare that a community has someone in the local media for as long as we had Bruce Fessier at the Desert Sun. Too often, writers, reporters, and entertainers come and they go – which is understandable as it just pays more and there is more opportunity elsewhere.
It’s likely that the Coachella Valley will never have another Bruce Fessier – which makes sense, as Bruce was truly one-of-a-kind.