Poway Shooting Suspect Faces Federal Charges, SB-54 One Year Later, Dr. Seuss’ Imagination
KPBS Midday Edition / May 9, 2019
Federal prosecutors on Thursday charged the suspected gunman in the April shooting at the Chabad of Poway synagogue with federal hate crimes including 54 counts of
obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs. A year into California’s sanctuary law, not all San Diego County law enforcement offices fully comply. Following thousands of complaints, the Pentagon is reforming military family moving practices. And a new biography traces the source of Dr. Seuss’ imagination.
Speaker 1: 00:00 Moments ago, the US Department of Justice announced federal hate crime and civil rights charges against the alleged shooter and the Habbat of Poway synagogue back on April 27th. The charges include 54 counts of obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs. Here's US attorney Robert Brewer.
Speaker 2: 00:18 That's one count for every person in the synagogue. On April 27th, including 12 children,
Speaker 1: 00:27 Kay PBS reporter Andrew Bowen joins us from the US Attorney's office downtown. We're a news conference about those charges. Just wrapped up. Andrew, what is this alleged shooter being charged with in regards to the synagogue shooting?
Speaker 3: 00:41 Well, jade, as you mentioned, there were 109 counts of hate crime violations included in the federal complaint. Here I'm 54 counts are a for the obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs using a dangerous weapon resulting in death or bodily injury and attempts to kill. And that is a one counts or one 54 people is the number of people who are inside the synagogue. That day. Of course, one woman was killed and the 53 others, uh, were there, uh, and uh, in, in the room. Uh, 54 counts also of hate crimes violations in relation to the shooting. Um, and this is a violation of the, the Federal Hate Crimes Prevention Act. And then, uh, there is one count of damage to religious property by fire. In other words, our sin. And that's related to the attack on the mosque in Escondido.
Speaker 1: 01:35 And what type of sentence is he facing?
Speaker 3: 01:39 The crimes do a altogether carry a maximum possible death penalty or life without parole? I did ask, uh, the, uh, trial attorney who is going to be trying this case when the decision will be made on whether or not to pursue the death penalty. And what he said was that the only person in the federal government who can make that call as the attorney general, and there's a process that is involved with, with making that decision. He said that they will be consulting with the victims and the congregants of the Kubota of Poway synagogue. And, uh, ultimately the attorney general is the one who will determine whether or not to pursue the death penalty.
Speaker 1: 02:21 And you as attorney Robert Druer read some language from the complaint about the right of Americans to worship in peace.
Speaker 2: 02:28 Every citizen, no matter their race or religion. All of our community members have the right to worship and live in peace as alleged. The defendant wanted to destroy those individual fundamental rights when he attempted to burn down a mosque and violently kill innocent people who were simply gathered to worship.
Speaker 1: 02:55 No. Andrew, did we learn anything new about the details around either abuse attacks?
Speaker 3: 03:01 Well, one thing, the one question that we had when the district attorney Summer Stephan announced her charges was whether or not the weapon was purchased legally. She said that it appeared that appeared to be the case that he did purchase this a assault rifle legally. Um, but there was a little bit of ambiguity in her answer. That question was asked again today, and it is included in the federal complaint that he picked up the weapon from a gun store, uh, on April 26th. In other words, the day before the shooting, um, the, the, the u s attorney didn't specifically say outright that, uh, the weapon was purchased legally. He just said that there were no charges about the purchase of the weapon in this complaint. And now under California law, there is a waiting period for picking up these types of weapons. So we have to assume that he made the decision to purchase the weapon, uh, before actually taking it up. And then he picked it up the day before
Speaker 1: 03:54 four and there was also a nine one one call made to correct.
Speaker 3: 03:58 Yeah. And so, uh, one thing that the attorney said was that, uh, the, the suspect called nine one one after the shooting and told the dispatcher that he adjusts, shot up as synagogue. He said he was trying to defend his nation against the Jewish people. And, uh, he said that he think he thought that he killed some people. Uh, so that is some, a bit of new information as well. Um, of course, we already knew that there was this online, a open letter that he had allegedly posted, uh, with a number of antisemitic a conspiracy theories and, uh, and just a lot of, a really horrific statements against the Jewish people. So, uh, all of the evidence that we've seen so far is certainly pointing to the fact that, or to the assumption that this was motivated, uh, as an attack against the Jewish people, uh, and the entire Jewish community and the same case with the attack on the mosque, an attack against the entire Muslim community.
Speaker 1: 05:02 And so for prosecutors, those two things are what weighed heavy and their decision to pursue the hate crime charges?
Speaker 3: 05:09 Absolutely, yes. The, the, the charges are essentially, uh, that he is, uh, uh, attempting to, uh, prohibit or obstruct the free exercise of religion. So this was, this attack was not an attempt, uh, not only an attempt to kill people, it was an attempt to terrify and, uh, terrorize a religious group and prevent them from being able to exercise their constitutional rights to practice their religion.
Speaker 1: 05:36 And there was an FBI agent there too who spoke, what did he say?
Speaker 3: 05:40 Oh, is she actually said that? Uh, she basically made a plea to a community members to always report, uh, people that they suspect will, uh, potentially commit this type of crime. She said it takes a whole community to prevent these types of crimes. And uh, she said that also the FBI has done a lot of assistance to the local law enforcement in terms of interviewing the victims and reviewing digital evidence. So that's what we heard from the FBI.
Speaker 1: 06:07 And are these federal prosecutors working with local prosecutors on these charges?
Speaker 3: 06:12 Yes. And one thing that we learned today also is that a, the u s attorney said that the trials we'll pursue or that these charges will be pursued a simultaneously. So, um, what we heard is that, well, the, the suspect is currently in state custody. Uh, what the u s attorney said was dead on, uh, 2:00 PM on Tuesday. Um, or thereabouts. He'll be brought to the federal building and be arraigned on these federal charges. Uh, and I believe he said after that he would be transferred back to state custody. Um, so it's, it seems unlikely to me that the trials will take place simultaneously. I would expect that one would start and have to conclude and the other one would follow. Um, but he said that it would be a joint decision between the local and the federal authorities on which case to pursue first and a either way. I think that, um, we, we can expect that, um, uh, you know, he'll be facing a very long trial.
Speaker 1: 07:11 I had been speaking with Kpbs News reporter Andrew Bowen. Andrew, thanks for joining us. Thank you. Jade.
Speaker 1: 00:00 It's been more than a year since California and acted SB 54 commonly called the sanctuary state law. It never really did give total sanctuary to people living in the state illegally, but it did limit how law enforcement agencies were allowed to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. Now, a new review shows that SB 54 has still not been fully embraced by San Diego law enforcement. Joining me as Sara Libby, voice of San Diego's managing editor in Sarah, welcome to the program. Thanks so much. Remind us if you would, how the California values act change the way police departments work with immigration officials.
Speaker 2: 00:39 So the overall goal was to create sort of a firewall between local law enforcement agencies and federal immigration enforcement. And it did that in quite a few ways. One of them is that local police aren't supposed to use federal authorities as translators, you know, to sort of help them separate themselves when they're dealing with immigrants, uh, who they interact with. Uh, you're not supposed to have dedicated jail space for ice officers in local jails. Um, and so things like that that really sought to just make sure that there's some distance in between the activities of police and the activities of federal immigration authorities.
Speaker 1: 01:18 And this isn't just California being a stubborn, right. I support supporters say there are practical reasons for local law enforcement to separate from immigration enforcement.
Speaker 2: 01:27 Yeah, absolutely. We've even heard from several, you know, police officials throughout the county that they really value the ability to get information and have immigrants report crimes that they experience and they don't want them to be afraid to come forward with information that they have or to report crimes that have happened to them. And so I think they believe that there has to be some optics, um, showing members of the community that, that they are there to take that information and that they're willing to work with them on issues that might be of concern to them and that they won't, you know, just turn them over to immigration. Did hmm.
Speaker 1: 02:06 Police departments in San Diego routinely work with immigration authorities before SB 54?
Speaker 2: 02:12 I think it depends, um, on the department. You know, a Escondido police had a reputation of being very friendly with icing, coordinating with them, um, on a lot of efforts. Um, the report said that they actually have a, revamped their policies to reflect SB 54 not in every single way. You know, some of the departments we see are complying with the letter of the law, but maybe not necessarily its spirit. Um, an Escondido and the sheriff's department both, for example, got rid of dedicated office space for ice, but they moved to having shared office space. So they all work together with their laptops instead of having a dedicated desktop computer. So I guess on paper they're complying in that way, but the effect is that they're still sharing space and working together. Sarah, you referenced the report. Can you tell us what organization did this review of SB 54 and what were they looking for?
Speaker 2: 03:07 Yeah, so it's called the San Diego immigrant rights consortium. Um, and it's a group of several groups of advocates and they met with, they tried to meet with every, uh, police department in the county. Some were more willing than others to meet with them. Um, I think they weren't able to meet with Coronado or Carlsbad, for example, Coronado even refuse to share their policies and simply provided a letter saying, you know, we follow the law. It's hard to see that when you can't examine the policy for yourself. Um, and it's especially interesting given the SB 54 in addition to separating, you know, immigration and local police was also intended to boost transparency. And so to say, you can't even see our policies is probably not in keeping with the spirit of that. So, which local departments have changed their policies to comply with the law? The report found that most of them have have been going through updates and several have finished those updates.
Speaker 2: 04:06 Um, some are still in the process of updating them, but even the agencies that have changed their policies in order to comply with the law don't necessarily reflect every component in their policies. So for example, they might not say in their policies that they don't allow immigration authorities to work as translators, you know, out in the field. They might not be doing that, but their policies don't reflect it. And so, you know, reviewing the policies is in a perfect way to capture whether departments are complying with the law. But it is one way to see, you know, how they've been responding. What about when local law enforcement works with federal agencies on Joint Task Forces? Is that a gray area for SB 54? So that's something that's specifically allowed and I think it's a good reminder that despite, you know, having passed SB 54 that there are still plenty of ways that local police interacts with and even works with immigration authorities and joint task forces is a big one.
Speaker 2: 05:06 So basically every department in the county is a member of various joint task forces with several federal agencies, including agencies that conduct immigration enforcement. And so, you know, they might be, um, task forces that are aimed at, you know, drug enforcement or preventing human trafficking. But sometimes the result can be that they detain people who are later, you know, process for immigration violations. And so to think that there's a complete separation just really isn't the case. You talked about this private agency that's looked into and tried to get reports from these various law enforcement agencies around the county, is the state monitoring whether law enforcement agencies comply with this new law. So the law does include some components that require agencies to report what they're doing. And one of those, um, involves those task forces. So local agencies just supposed to be providing information to the attorney general about their participation in those task forces and specifically what they're doing. And you know, this review found that it's not really clear how they're doing that or whether they're doing that at all. I guess we'll see when the reports are due, but it's, it's not clear whether they think they're responsible for providing that information or whether the immigration authorities are responsible for that. So that's something that still seems like it's fuzzy.
Speaker 1: 06:29 The overall takeaway on how law enforcement agencies are complying with this new law in San Diego County.
Speaker 2: 06:35 I think the takeaway is that several, um, have, you know, made big strides in updating their policies. And on top of the policies we've heard that they've also been doing outreach in the communities. Um, the Chula Vista Police Department was one that we heard 'em had met with a lot of stakeholders and immigrant advocates about ways that they could improve, you know, how they reach out to marginalized groups. Um, so not just, you know, writing it into their policies, but actually having meetings and taking feedback and kind of incorporating that and to how they interact with these communities.
Speaker 1: 07:09 I've been speaking with voice of San Diego's managing editor, Sara Libby, Sarah. Thank you. Thank you.
Speaker 3: 07:15 MMM.
Speaker 1: 00:00 Rent is on the rise in San Diego outpacing the average income. Now there's legislation that would stop landlords from raising rent more than five to 10% in one year. It's called assembly bill 1482 and if the governor signs it, it'll be state law. Philip Molnar has been covering this for the San Diego Union Tribune. Phillip, welcome. Thank you so much for having me. As things stand right now, how much can a landlord increase rent by what a renter seeing? Well, a landlord right now, legally speaking in San Diego county where we have no form of rent control, can raise rent as much as they want once you're signing a new lease. So they could increase that 100% 200% but what we're actually seeing is as of about last week, rents have increased in San Diego County on average, about 2.7% in a year. You know, that's almost with inflation. So that isn't so bad. However, we do always hear a lot of horror stories about, you know, a landlord raised my rent 100% and now I'm out on the street and there are those stories which are really compelling and just seemed to just pop up the time.
Speaker 1: 01:11 Ah, so under this proposed legislation, how would rent increases be calculated? So under Assembly bill 1482, uh, the way it would work is you're not allowed, a landlord would not be allowed to raise rent more than 5% a year plus the rate as inflation. But so the overall, the landlord really couldn't raise rents in San Diego county more than like 7.2% Korean to current inflation numbers in a given year. It's kind of rare that we kind of, you know, on average of the entire county, it's not often that you see nowadays a 7% rent in a year, although we do hear about it happening. But on average though, in 2015 is when there was some very high rent hikes going on. And in the third quarter of 2015 rents for everybody on average increased 7.5% so there is some precedent that if this passes, it could slow down rent increases that we've seen in the recent history of San Diego County.
Speaker 1: 02:10 And so why do proponents of this legislation think this is a necessary step for affordable housing in California? So basically we've seen a lot of, um, effort to try and increase housing in California that hasn't quite panned out. And so the, the issue with that is there isn't a lot of homes to go around and everybody, all the politicians that keep coming out of that keeps saying, oh, we're going to build more houses, we're going to build more housing, don't do rent, glue, troll, don't do rent control. But the problem for people that are, that want this bill is that, look, that housing hasn't been built and this has been going on for years and we're still suffering. So we really need to put something in place right now to stop these rent hikes before we're all ending up on the street is what they would say.
Speaker 1: 02:56 And so people who don't want to see this bill, um, make it into law. Say this is a form of rent control and this cap will actually stand in the way of efforts to create more affordable housing. Can you explain their argument? The idea is if you put any type of rent control or limit on rent, rent cap, whatever you want to call it, a developer was not going to want to be possibly building that next big apartment is structure that would house like 400 people and if you're slowing the increase of construction for any area in San Diego County, the argument is that's going to make rents higher for everybody. And if you have that, you know, people are going to be fighting for more rent, a higher rent and those poor people, you're trying to help with this rent control bill, they're going to just be end up suffering because you know there's not going to be enough housing to go around and you're going to make a problem that it hurted me and bad.
Speaker 1: 03:53 Worse. Is that a viable argument from what we've seen? I Dunno. I've been hearing that for a really long time and year after year, things don't really seem to change that much locally. I mean we're, we're told that, you know, if, uh, you know, these, these people that bring the rent control bill, they're told that, oh, you can't possibly do this because it's going to slow construction and everyone's going to be in so much trouble and rents are gonna go up. But we haven't seen a substantial increase in building in San Diego County even as these rent control measures fail either in legislation or voters voted dial like this past November, San Diego County. As far as housing units goes, for the last three years, it's been pretty much flat, just under 10,000 units. And you think our population here is growing by since the year 2000 on average, around like 28,000 a year.
Speaker 1: 04:46 So I mean there's definitely a disconnect with how many people our population is growing. It was how many housing units we have and what's next for us simply bill 1482. Okay. So it passed a committee yesterday morning. Quite easily. Acids, the assembly, it goes on to the Senate and all of this stuff really needs to happen by like mid summer. So we're talking about kind of a quick turnaround after it goes through its Senate committees and passes the Senate hypothetically, then it would go to Gavin or nuisance desk where he would sign it. Now what is kind of rare about this particular assembly bill is after a pass the initial housing committee, um, they actually, uh, give it or Newsome issued a statement in which he said that basically he was looking forward to signing a rent protection package. Now what I'm told is this is kind of rare that the governor would actually step in and say this at this stage in the process, I'm looking forward to signing something.
Speaker 1: 05:39 It's actually looking like this might be one of those rare ones that makes it through all the way to the governor's desk. But we could be wrong with rent control last year, an effort to expand it or even just allow rent control in California for a lot of places that that lost by like 60% the voters. Uh, but there was like a multimillion dollar push from these big corporate landlords that have properties throughout California, and they just did everything they could to stop it. So we'll see if they stand in the way. This one, there's a whole lot of stuff that could happen behind the scenes in the next few months. All right. I've been speaking with Philip Molnar residential real estate and business reporting for the San Diego Union Tribune. Philip, thanks so much. Thank you for having me.
Speaker 2: 06:26 Yeah.
Speaker 1: 00:00 After years of complaints, the Pentagon is trying to reform the way it manages the moving process for military families. The current system is plagued by delays, lost shipments, theft and a lack of accountability. As Carson frame reports for the American Home Front project, Andrea Cocho in her family are finally settling into their new home at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. After a difficult move last summer, the army transferred conchos husband from a base in Kentucky and paid to move all of the families possessions to their new home. But things got off to a rocky start. Cocho says the company assigned to pack the household, showed up late and did a careless job. The corners of the boxes were like bulging. My husband's a medic so we actually, we only had medical tape in the house but I put medical tape on top of their packing tape cause it was just not sticking to the boxes.
Speaker 1: 00:55 After the shipment left Kentucky, it took months for it to get to the cat shows in Virginia. A trip that normally takes about 10 hours. The items changed hands repeatedly with four companies responsible for packing, trucking and warehousing them. By the time they arrived, they'd been damaged to the tune of about $4,000 every box was smashed. There was a water damage. There is mod like our wedding photo or TV. Everything was shattered. Military families have long complained about the poor quality of their moves. Last August one spouse circulated a change.org petition pushing Congress to hold moving companies accountable. It went viral gathering more than a hundred thousand signatures that forced the military to rethink its approach. General Steven Lions' heads, US transportation command or trans comm, the part of the Defense Department responsible for household moves. He says there were too many offices involved and that makes it hard for the military to manage movers and there's little quality control to make sure companies with spotty records don't keep getting work
Speaker 2: 01:57 today. If you were to look at the way we manage this program and the department completely diffused, completely decentralized, every service is running her own thing is there's no enterprise approach. A carrier can be suspended over here working over here.
Speaker 1: 02:10 Now Trans Comm wants to hire what it calls a single move manager by the summer of 2021 it's a private company that would build networks within the moving industry and oversee contracting. The Canadian and UK militaries already used programs like it. Rear Admiral Pete Clark of Trans Comm says the current system is so complex and overregulated that movers often don't want to take part. He says that's why there's a shortage of quality movers during peak seasons. The primary premise is that the single move manager who will be an industry expert, we'll remove the barriers for entry that the government has put in place, but the change worry. Some advocates, Kelly Raska of the National Military Family Association says she's not sure which problem trans comm is trying to solve. The most common complaint we're hearing
Speaker 3: 03:00 is a quality issue too. Few transportation providers, a lot of broken items and that the claims process is overly burdensome. So I'm not exactly sure how outsourcing the management is going to solve all of the other problems.
Speaker 1: 03:21 Roscoe says military families weren't adequately consulted about the changes and they're concerned that the military has so few specifics about a program that's supposed to start soon. Andrea Cocho says the stakes are high for fixing the problem because bad moves are more than just an inconvenience. They're affecting the military's mission. I know personally multiple people that were like, okay, we're just going to get out of the military after this term because of the move. So then you're losing your soldiers. The single move manager system is still in its infancy in June. The Defense Department plans to get bids for moving in logistics companies. The military still needs to work out a lot of details, but expects the system will do a better job getting service members possessions to their new homes safely. This is Carson frame reporting.
Speaker 4: 04:06 This story was produced by the American Home Front project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veteran's funding comes from the corporation for public broadcasting.
Speaker 5: 04:20 Yeah,
Speaker 4: 04:22 Facebook cofounder. Chris Hughes is calling for the company to be broken up. Use helped develop the newsfeed algorithm and a New York Times op ed today. He writes that at the time he never predicted it would be used to spread quote, fringe political views and fake news. Facebook has been trying to get out in front of calls for a breakup promising to refocus the company more on private messaging. The question now is what are the encryption? That's the hallmark of those apps will actually make it harder for regulators and even Facebook itself to track the problems on its platform. Rachel Myro has more from Kq eds, silicon valley desk, a number of civil liberties advocates say it's about time. Maybe it's not such a bad thing for us to switch to platforms where it's on us to police ourselves. Insurer is editor at large of Cnet News. What do we feel is appropriate?
Speaker 4: 05:14 What isn't and how do we draw these lines? Right now we're abdicating that to Facebook and Twitter and Youtube and Instagram and all these other people. WHATSAPP is encrypted now. Facebook is promising messenger and Instagram direct will become so to now. It's not impossible for social media giants to eaves drop on encrypted conversations by saving a record of everything in a non encrypted environment where artificial intelligence can look for keywords and trends. But keeping up with problematic content is going to be a lot harder unless somebody inside the conversation flags it. For Facebook, you can have a whatsapp group that has two people and you can also have a whatsapp group that has 250 people the ladder it that this information can often spread a lot faster. That's Robyn Caplan with the data and society research institute in New York. Facebook has taken steps to reduce the spread of fake news on Whatsapp, which has fueled mob violence in countries like India. Me and Martin Srilanka in January, Facebook limited how many whatsapp conversations you can forward messages to at once. So now you can reach roughly 1300 people with a single message as opposed to 65,000 before. These platforms are going to police content regardless. And what we need is more oversight and more mechanisms to understand what they're doing behind the scenes. Um, because if not, it's really just left up to them entirely and left up to us as individuals using these private platforms. That was Kq Edis Rachel Myro reporting.
Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego sometimes takes a proprietary attitude over the memory of Dr Seuss. Ted Geisel and his wife Audrey made la Jolla their home and were major celebrities around town for many years. Geisel's the archives are now in a Uc San Diego Library, which is named after him, and many institutions, including KPBS, have benefited from the Geisel estate. So it's Tom that something reminded us that Dr Seuss and his many children's books and stories are actually not just ours, but national icons. A new biography is out that does just that. Joining me is Brian Jay Jones, author of becoming Dr Seuss, Theodore Geisel and the making of an American imagination. Brian, welcome to the program. Thank you. I'm so glad to be here in his hometown. Yeah. Well, Ted Geisel, you know how to rather long road to becoming Dr Seuss as is outlined in your book, but I want to ask you right off the bat, do you think Dr Seuss was what he wanted to become all along?
Speaker 1: 01:00 It's hard to say. I think he would have been happy doing any number of things in his career. And there's a number of times in his career that he almost gets derailed from becoming who we know of is Dr Seuss. You get to his head, turned by Hollywood at one point in the late 1940s do a touch up screenplays and write screenplays and write original screenplays. He had a very successful career, was an advertising man very early in his career through the 20s and into the 30s and the reason he actually gets into writing children's books is because there's money on the table. It's something he's not prohibited from doing. And his pretty restrictive contract with standard oil. I find them really fascinating because he doesn't emerge fully formed and in our imaginations either. Now he started out as I understand, as a cartoonist in the 1920s yes.
Speaker 1: 01:42 And that was at the height of the booming newspaper age in New York City where you could actually make, you could make a living doing cartoons for vanity fair and liberty. Who would, who would ever think, how successful was he? He was very successful and he, he had a reputation of making jokes about drinking enough that people look for the cartoons by doctor south. Uh, they would say. So, uh, he, he sold them quite regularly and they were very popular and it's actually how we ended up sort of backing in to finding his advertising career. But he had lots of work published at that time and in lots of the big magazines including covers of things like judge magazine, which was a huge satire magazine, unrivaled was even larger than the New Yorker. What did his drawings look like back then? It's not going to look unfamiliar to, there's a lot of wide eyes and a lot of, you know, eyelashes on eyes and a lot of sort of card or years on people and things like that.
Speaker 1: 02:30 So it's, it's a look you'll recognize if you see it when he moved on to advertising. And as you say, it was very successful. Did he write any copy or did he just focus on illustration? His ad work was primarily done with standard oil. Um, his first big ad campaign was for flip bug spray. And the campaign was a punchline. He wrote that was quick. Henry the Flint, uh, which became popular enough. It was the title of songs and Comedians could use it as a Goto punchline, but he actually wrote that as don draper would call it, that tagline. Basically his commercials were cartoons. So he was writing both the text and doing the drawings for those. Later on he ended up doing a campaign for a motorboat oil and he developed something called the Seuss Navy, which was more of a almost like performance art where you would join the Seuss navy and you would get these great certificates and he would drive himself and you could go to these exclusive parties where there was a lot of fun and a lot of shenanigans going on.
Speaker 1: 03:23 Um, so he sort of created an experience in advertising. He was very forward thinking, very, you know, had a lot of interesting ideas even back at that time for how advertising should work and how you could catch people. And the name Seuss, that's actually his middle name, right. See his middle name and his, his mother's maiden name. And if you're pronouncing, getting a germ good German fashion, it's actually soy sauce. Uh, but he gave up very early on. Anybody ever pronouncing it that way? How did his work during World War II changed? Yeah. World War II, who was I think very formative for him. Um, I think, I think his career at PM magazine, uh, under his editor there was very important to him. And then when he joined the army and ends up serving in the signal corps at age 39, he ends up serving under Frank Capra, his commanding officer, the director, Frank Capra, who teaches them about plot and how to storyboard things like that.
Speaker 1: 04:11 But, but, um, Ingersoll, his editor at pm the PM newspaper where he was drawing these very progressive editorial cartoons, I think really, really taught him the importance of articulating your position a little more clearly. Dr Seuss talked about late, even later in life, how, you know, he, he found those cartoons somewhat off key and he said they were a little impudent and, um, and he said, I don't regret it. I do it again. But he would have to read the newspaper in the morning, draw cartoon and then mail it that day. So there wasn't a lot of time to think of these things over, but it was Ingersoll who taught him, you know, you've got a voice here, you need to use it, you need to use it responsibly and let's figure out how we say some of these things. So his, his work becomes a little more sophisticated and responsible I think even in those edits Cora cartoons because as you move into the latter half of those, but once he joins the army and he's under capra, capra really shapes the way he, he works, um, more than anything else.
Speaker 1: 05:02 And Chuck Jones, the great animator and director over at looney tunes we worked with on private snafu cartoons, did the same thing, really taught him how to storyboard and, and to, to think about how quick you're moving and how long your plots are and to put those drawings up on the wall and look at them. One of the major criticisms against Ted Geisel is the racist drawings he made of Asians during and after World War Two. Did he regret that at all? You know, he was asked about that even during his own lifetime and he said something along the lines of, you know, you have to look at those in the context of the time. At the time I thought they were funny, but looking back now, I'm not so sure. So it's even something in his lifetime he had to sort of think about. Oh right.
Speaker 1: 05:44 So we, we've meet him now. He's, it's after World War II. He's been under the tutelage of Frank Capra and Chuck Jones and he's on the verge of becoming Dr Seuss. What events though actually brought that about? So, so the, the game changer in his career is the cat in the hat. Um, before cat in the hat had done 11, 12 books, most of what you know now, but at the time he hadn't really had a big selling book, Horton Hatches. The egg was probably his big book at the time, but he was never earning enough money to do this full time to write kids books for a living. Um, and in 1954, uh, we were doing as a nation, what we do probably about every eight to 10 years is we're wondering what's wrong with kids today? Uh, why aren't they reading? Why aren't they paying attention? You know, this conversation we have all the time, whether it's video games, we want to blame.
Speaker 1: 06:32 Uh, but back in 1954, they, they were saying, you know, kids aren't reading. And one of the problems is the Dick and Jane Reading Primers, we put in front of them in the classrooms are really terrible. And somebody challenged Dr Seuss, write me a book of first grade or can't put down. And so Dr Seuss agreed to do this, but the condition on it is that you have to use the preapproved wordless. He was challenged to write a book, first graders using 300 words or less, and it takes him a year to even figure out what that subject is going to be because he says, it's hard to do when you don't have any adjectives. You can't use plurals, you can't use possessives. And he said he threw around the list and was ready to throw it across the room and burn it when he decided to go through it one more time and find two words that rhymed and he solved the words tall ball.
Speaker 1: 07:19 So thank goodness he didn't go with that. Uh, instead he went with cat and hat and that was the beginning of that book, but it took them another year to write it. After that, you know, in reference to your title becoming, Dr Says, what do you think makes Geisel's work a distinctly American creation? First of all, there's a lot going on from a lot of different places and he himself is, you know, one of those American success stories, you know, early part of the 20th century. He's the son of the son of an immigrant. His father and his grandfather were very successful brewers who lost everything in prohibition. So, you know, he's, he's, he's almost got that Horatio Alger element to his own story. But I think the reason his work still resonates with us even today is, and I don't know if this is distinctly American or not, but he never talks down to an audience.
Speaker 1: 08:07 Um, no matter how young they are or how old the parents are, he's always talking right to us. He always gives us that. It's very democratic in that way, I think. And I think maybe that's what's very American about it. Everyone's an equal in his world. He talks to everybody, never down to anybody, always assumes that his readers are smart as readers are going to get it and they shouldn't be condescended to and they shouldn't be pandered to. And I think that's what makes those books so great as popular now as they were. They are just as popular now, if not more popular. He just last week, I think he still had three books in the top 10 on the USA Today. Nonfiction list, I think, uh, I think green eggs and ham was in there. Uh, oh, the places you'll go always shows up because it's graduation time and cat in the hat still sell. So He's, he's constantly got books on the bestseller. It was 30 years after he's died. My guest, Brian Jay Jones, will be speaking about his new book becoming Dr Seuss. That's tonight at seven 30 at Warwick's bookstore in La Jolla. And Brian, thank you. Thank you. What a pleasure.