Monday, September 30, 2013

LA Times Uses Joshua Trees to Illustrate the Antelope Valley 'Cactus Curtain' Dividing Lancaster and Palmdale

Joshua trees decorate the landscape looking south along Avenue M, which splits the Antelope Valley into two nearly indistinguishable swaths of desert, a concrete ribbon that roughly marks the border between Palmdale and Lancaster 

In an entertaining -and informative - article today, Frank Shyong of the LA Times covers the on-going shootout between the leaders of rival Antelope Valley cities of Lancaster and Palmdale (the 'palm' in Palmdale's name being Joshua trees even though they are not palm trees) which despite not yet producing any dead bodies, has cost the two cities over one hundred million dollars, according to at least one local score keeper.
However, what first caught my attention was the lead photo describing Avenue M as the physical Cactus Curtain since, rather than showing the street itself,  it showed the grove of Joshua trees along the street.  So even though the Joshua trees were not labeled as being 'cactus', the uninformed might be confused even though (as any local knows) - Joshua trees are not in the cactus family or genus (they are Yuccas). Most locals also proudly know the Joshua tree are more correctly... lilies .... since they have been long standing members of the Lilales order. Or at least... they were.
Without any public notice, Joshua trees have recently been reclassified as being part of the Asparagales order (yes, as in ... asparagus) - so they are no longer... lilies - or even related to lilies - but to the ... asparagus.
However, there  is good news for local Joshua tree fans.   They can now show their taxonomic skills by correctly observing the Joshua tree now shares the same genus as its new kissing cousin (and fellow Asparagales) - the majestic orchid.  A considerable upgrade from the lowly lily.
As for the rest of the story - here is the lead and then a link to the rest of the Cactus Curtain War:

The Cactus Curtain splits a prickly pair: Lancaster and Palmdale 

Avenue M roughly marks the border between the two desert cities. For as long as anyone can remember, they've been squabbling

                    BY FRANK SHYONG 
Avenue M splits the Antelope Valley into two nearly indistinguishable swaths of desert, a concrete ribbon that roughly marks the border between the cities of Palmdale and Lancaster.
Lancaster residents head south to Palmdale's Antelope Valley Mall, the only indoor shopping mall for 40 miles. Palmdale residents drive north to buy produce from Lancaster's farmers market and attend the annual Antelope Valley Fair.
Locals have given a name to the rivalry: the Cactus Curtain.But for decades, some city officials have treated Avenue M as a battle line. For as long as anyone can remember, the two cities have gone to war over Wal-Marts, Costcos, car dealerships and, now, a power plant. The squabbles have cost millions, launched lawsuits and, lately, tended toward the personal.
Relations may have reached a low point last year when Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris held a Chuckie doll during an interview with a local television news channel, pretending it was Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford. 
And the rest of this - again - entertaining and informative article is here. 

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