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San Diego County Leaders Consider Vaping Ban, ‘Operation Gatekeeper’s’ Legacy, The Changing Face Of Domestic Violence, And Molière Goes To Sinaloa In New Play At San Diego Rep

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In light of 22 vaping-related illnesses in San Diego County, the Board of Supervisors is considering a temporary ban on vaping products. Twenty-five years after the roll out of “Operation Gatekeeper,” which increased border security, activists say the measure led to the deaths of thousands of migrants. Also, a Cinderella costume, created by an Oceanside woman who was born without an arm, has inspired people with limb differences. Plus, thousands of military homes are getting a make-over. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. A new report shows a slight uptick in the number of reported domestic violence incidents in the county. And, a new play opening at the San Diego Rep mixes Molière, Shakespeare, and a narco telenovela.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 There have been a dozen deaths and more than 800 cases of respiratory illness connected to vaping across the country in reaction to San Diego County. Supervisors are bringing a proposal to the full County board later this month. Here's supervisor Nathan Fletcher

Speaker 2: 00:16 as a County. Uh, we are leading in San Diego and calling for a ban on flavored products that target our children and a moratorium on the untested vaping devices. Until such time as the public health risks have been properly assessed.

Speaker 1: 00:30 Well, there have been no deaths associated with vaping in the County. There have been numerous people hospitalized, a point of concern for dr Wilma Wooten, San Diego counties, public health officer, Dr. Wooten. Welcome.

Speaker 3: 00:43 Thank you for having me.

Speaker 1: 00:44 Can you give us an overview of the 22 cases in the County

Speaker 3: 00:48 in San Diego? As you've stated, we've had 22 confirmed and probable, uh, vaping associated pulmonary injury cases and the ages range from 17 to 70 years of age with a median age of 35 years of age. 55% of the cases have been male. All of the cases have been hospitalized, uh, as well. But we have had no deaths. Uh, thankfully in San Diego.

Speaker 1: 01:17 What are some of the common symptoms they're experiencing?

Speaker 3: 01:20 Well, the symptoms, uh, nationwide and locally are respiratory or cardiac symptoms in terms of chest pain or difficulty breathing. There is a GI symptoms including diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, as well as general symptoms of fatigue, fever and weight loss. So those are the common symptoms that have been associated with this condition.

Speaker 1: 01:46 And given that we're seeing these cases here in San Diego County, what was your initial reaction to the proposed ban? A when supervisors, Diane, Jacob and Nathan Fletcher brought it to your attention?

Speaker 3: 01:56 Well, this is until we know more, it is the appropriate action to take. We have some bits and pieces that are coming in, but until CDC has elucidated what is actually causing these conditions, I the most prudent thing to do is to ask people to stop vaping until we have more information.

Speaker 1: 02:19 And while we're, we're still trying to collect information on this, do you have any hesitation on enacting a ban on something where the cause of the illness is not really fully known yet?

Speaker 3: 02:29 That's actually an argument that can be made for why we should do this a on a temporary basis until we have more information. Uh, again, while people are not dying in San Diego, we have had, uh, several deaths in California, so other States are ha reporting deaths as well. So it is the prudent thing to do at this point until we have more information and can give the public, uh, more guidance.

Speaker 1: 02:57 And are you concerned with banning these devices that can help people quit smoking, which is a habit with known health risks?

Speaker 3: 03:04 Well, a vaping has not been proven to help people quit smoking. There is no evidence for its use for that purpose, although anecdotally we do hear that people use it for that purpose, but there is no evidence base, uh, research or studies that shows that it is a smoking cessation tool.

Speaker 1: 03:26 Uh, this would only cover devices and flavored tobacco products that are sold legally and it's believed that what's causing the problem is CBD and THC products sold on the black market. Thus, how big of an impact do you think this band would make on preventing illness?

Speaker 3: 03:41 Having this temporary band, you can actually go into some locations where you get, uh, what is, uh, uh, products that are, um, responsible products. But then in terms of that, the Carter's device, but in the same location, you might be getting a, um, a substance to use in a device that is actually from the black market. So again, what we're just asking people to do is to stop vaping if they do, to not start, if they don't, and to uh, know where they get their products from. Getting things online, people might think that that's safe, but it might not necessarily be so we don't have all of the answers. So the best thing is to ask people to stop, uh, the action until we have more information to help us give further guidance to the community.

Speaker 1: 04:36 And this proposed ban would cover the unincorporated areas of the County. Would you encourage other cities in this, in the County to enact a similar band?

Speaker 3: 04:45 That is correct. This is for the unincorporated areas. And there are other cities that are looking at this, uh, action. And we certainly will and would work with those cities to help implement this process.

Speaker 1: 05:00 And finally, as the county's public health officer, what advice do you have for our listeners concerning these devices?

Speaker 3: 05:07 Well, the major advice is that until more is known about what is causing the cases of severe, uh, pulmonary injury, it's important for people to stop using, uh, the products. I, they might feel that they are getting them from a reliable source for sometimes they, the products may not be coming from a reliable source. It might be a, an underground, um, uh, product. So until we know more, we're asking people to stop vaping. And this is particularly of concern for, uh, youth for young adults and for pregnant women.

Speaker 1: 05:42 I've been speaking with dr Wilma boot and San Diego counties, public health officer, Dr. Wooten. Thank you so much.

Speaker 3: 05:47 Thank you for having me.

Speaker 4: 05:54 [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 00:00 It's been credited with transforming the us Mexico border in San Diego and it's been denounced as the cause of thousands of migraine deaths over the years. The border security program called operation gatekeeper is marking its 25th anniversary this month. It was the beginning of our nation's recent focus on stopping immigration from Mexico. Critics of the measure gathered at Chicano park yesterday and KPBS reporter max Rivlin Nadler was there. He joins us now. Hi max. Hi. Give us some of the background on operation gatekeeper. It was launched October 1st, 1994 under president Clinton's administration. What was the immigration debate like back then

Speaker 2: 00:42 in California at least it was very heated. You had then California governor and San Diego's own Pete Wilson and the passage or you know, the proposed passage of proposition one 87 which if we look back today was really kind of a precursor to the recent public charge rule, which you know, disqualifies people from getting citizenship if they apply for public assistance. In that case it was to ban people from getting social services at all or if they were undocumented. So on top of that, you had the massive economic disruption created by the North American free trade agreement. So this is on both sides of the border. But one of the things that happened under NAFTA was that you had a small Mexican farmers or even midsize Mexican farmers lose a lot of their business to American farmers. So you had entire sectors of the rural economy in Mexico suddenly out of work and looking North for economic opportunities. So they were heading North and unprecedented number.

Speaker 1: 01:41 There were apparently hundreds of immigrants waiting to cross of lightly fenced border back in those days. Can you describe what that was like?

Speaker 2: 01:50 So obviously I wasn't there, but the photos are pretty stunning in the recollections of people too, is that basically you have thousands of people waiting for dusk every night, and the border patrol without much of offense would really grab what people, they could apprehend the people that they could. They still need a staggering number of arrests. We're talking over 500,000 in a single year, but there were just simply not a lot of border patrol agents for the amount of people that were crossing each day. Now what changed under operation gatekeeper? So what changed under operation gatekeepers, you had more agents, uh, you know, right afterwards, uh, thousands of agents flooded into San Diego sector. You had more technology and you had more wall. Uh, you also had in 1994, which proved to be a really fateful year for the criminal justice system domestically and the immigration and border enforcement at large, you had one point $2 billion out allocated for border control.

Speaker 2: 02:45 Um, and the agencies that would eventually become ice under the violent crime control and law enforcement act of 1994, uh, which a lot of people have looked back on as being really jump-starting, mass incarceration, uh, domestically operation gatekeeper also launched the career of venue S attorney for Southern district of California, Allen Burson, uh, who really focused on the prosecution of people for illegal entry as a deterrent. So that is, uh, 13, 25, but that's a criminal code. 1325 and criminal code 13, 26, which is illegal reentry, which basically criminalizes people for crossing the border and says, you know, if you do this multiple times or even one time, you will face time in federal prison, which before hadn't really been, um, in forced, at least in the Southern district of California. You also, uh, as part of that process had fingerprinting and bringing a lot more people into the criminal justice system who were, you know, before then being treated in the civil immigration system and did operation gatekeeper deter illegal immigration?

Speaker 2: 03:49 It did in the San Diego sector. It did the border apprehensions nosedive to right after the beginning of operation gatekeeper. But what this happened, and as a lot of people pointed out yesterday, what happened was, um, these individuals who would cross in San Diego simply went elsewhere along the border. You know, the need was still there to get jobs in the U S to see family in the U S um, and, and to get around that. So they went too much further, more remote places along the border. Then what essentially we had in, in San Diego, which was, uh, you know, two cities of butting once in one another and that caused a real increase in the number of illegal crossers who died trying to get into the United States. Yeah, it is tough to put a number on how many people have died in the desert since the beginning of operation gatekeeper.

Speaker 2: 04:40 Us border patrol has put the number at over 8,000 people. This is a number that, um, advocacy groups say would be on the low end. Um, and that it's probably a much more into the tens of thousands of people. Now, you mentioned Alan Burris and a former us attorney here in San Diego. He's quoted to bring this up to date. He's quoted in the San Diego union Tribune is saying the immigration issue now is not a broken border, but a broken asylum system because most detainees are not running away from border agents. Is that the case? Yes and no. I would say a, just from my own reporting that, you know, to separate the asylum system from actual border enforcement is a difficult distinction to make. If you're criminally prosecuting people who have come here to ask for asylum, well that's border enforcement and that's in the asylum system. These things are deeply intertwined.

Speaker 2: 05:37 What we're seeing along the border today is a lot of money being spent on surveillance and enforcement and new technology that and of course the border wall itself. Uh, what you're seeing a lot less money spent on is the, um, resources that could process people who present at ports of entry for asylum. So taking these two things and saying they're separate issues to me, doesn't necessarily ring true. Activists at yesterday's press conference presented a different vision for the border. What would they like to see in their border communities moving forward? Well, one thing that they really wanted to make clear yesterday, and uh, this is a clip of Petro Rios from the American friends service committee.

Speaker 3: 06:20 The legacy of operation gatekeeper has been one of death. It's been a legacy of trampoline on basic civil rights for border community residents. It's been a legacy that has permitted this current administration to capitalize on decades worth of militarization that has placed the lives of thousands, that risks, that has claimed the lives of conservative number of over 8,300 people.

Speaker 2: 06:50 So what he's saying there is, you know, basically he gets at that human rights aren't being respected. So how do you respect human rights along the border in the eyes of these advocates? And that is going back to addressing what Allen Burson would say is the broken asylum system, but also, um, what they would say is just kind of the broken border control apparatus as it exists, which is that there needs to be far more resources sent to the border for people who have legitimate asylum claims for people who would like to migrate, uh, to reunite with their families, for people who are seeking better job opportunities, basically a much more holistic approach than one that has been championed by Allen Burson and others, which looks at a much more militarized response to, uh, what we saw at the border in the 90s and has kind of laid the foundation for the next 25 years in border enforcement nationwide. I've been speaking with KPBS reporter, max, Revlon, Nadler, and max. Thank you. Thank you.

Speaker 4: 07:48 [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 00:00 18 people died in San Diego last year from violence by domestic partners. That's according to the San Diego County domestic violence council and event last night in downtown San Diego, brought together law enforcement, County leaders, victims and advocates to Mark the start of domestic violence awareness month. Recent statistics from the San Diego County DA's office show incidents of domestic violence. Went up slightly last year. Joining us to talk about this as the assistant chief of San Diego County DA's family protection division and the newly elected president of the San Diego County domestic violence council, Claudia Grasso and Claudia, welcome. Thank you for having me. How do you ramp up awareness efforts for a situation that's been known to the public for years now? What can you do differently? Education is the big key. Uh, we are, uh, ramping of our efforts to be out there in the community. Uh, more so in, uh, those pockets of population that traditionally do not talk about domestic violence.

Speaker 1: 01:04 Uh, those are a big targets this year. Uh, we want to be out there in the community to emphasize that there are resources out there. For instance, medical and therapy and, um, maybe safety, uh, shelter. What are some of the communities in the County that don't traditionally talk about violence within the family? Uh, many of our, our, uh, minority communities, um, I know the Hispanic community, uh, being myself Latina, uh, we come from a community that we handle things within our family and my big push, my art and our big goal with the district attorney's office is to be out there in those communities. You know, we have a big Somali community, middle Eastern community that traditionally they don't know what their rights are or there's many that fear that they will get deported if they report, uh, or many of them just fear retribution and, and yet they continue to live with domestic violence.

Speaker 1: 02:07 So we want to be out there, uh, not only to encourage them to report, but also to demonstrate that, um, there are resources out there. What's the procedure for someone to report that they've been the victim of domestic violence. We used to hear horror stories about how victims were not taken seriously. We have come, we have made big strides on, um, in that front, we, um, we have wonderful law enforcement community partners and the district attorney's office. I mean, first and foremost, uh, nine one, one is the place to call, um, if there is a domestic violence incident and we have, uh, instances where family members called children, um, who are exposed to domestic violence call. And, um, once they do, then the process starts. Are victims still asked to press charges or else the police don't go any further with the investigation? No. Law enforcement will, uh, proceed with investigation and unfortunately for various Reese's reasons, there are victims that no longer want to prosecute after the situation is diffused.

Speaker 1: 03:21 But many times it's out of fear. It's out of, um, unknown. Uh, I'm basically fear of the unknown, not knowing what the repercussions will be, uh, being unfamiliar with the process. And so we have a victim advocates in the district attorney's office. We have resources that work with our victims to help them navigate the criminal, oftentimes scary process that they will go through. Has the face of domestic violence changed over the years? It used to be overwhelmingly a man abusing a woman. Is that changing? Absolutely. We are seeing arise, um, in cases where uh, I feel that it's more comfortable for males to come forward because males definitely are victims as well. We are seeing same sex couples, how two women, two men definitely those are communities that we want to reach and, and let them know that there are resources out there as well. Anybody can be a victim.

Speaker 1: 04:23 Now your office is reporting an increase in domestic violence cases last year. Is there any theory as to why that is? We will leave that. In 2017 we rolled out a strangulation protocol and that is a collaborative with law enforcement, with a health community, with the district attorney's office in educating ourselves and the public on strangulation. These are cases that traditionally were not prosecuted or, or, or not prosecuted as much because we didn't know, uh, about them. Uh, many times we saw a victim and if there was no injury, even though he or she reported strangulation, we figured, how can we prove certain charges? Because there is no, there are no visible injuries. Since then, we've all come together in this wonderful partnership to educate ourselves from the doctors on, on coming to our, uh, trials. Basically in helping us educate the juries, educate the judges, educate the community on these strangulation, these injuries.

Speaker 1: 05:32 Our internal, uh, officers now have this wonderful protocol. They have the strangulation, a supplemental sheet where they can ask, did you suffer some of these symptoms that come from strangulation, like raspy voices, like urinating on yourself, like losing consciousness, things of that sort. A few or someone you know, is the victim of domestic violence. What should people listening do? Well, if they in, um, in the middle a victim of violence, they should call nine one one. I've been speaking with San Diego prosecutor, Claudia Grasso. She is the newly elected president of the San Diego County domestic violence council. Claudia, thank you very much. Thank you. It's my pleasure.

Speaker 2: 06:18 You [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 00:00 The companies that manage most of the housing on us. Military bases have been under fire for poor maintenance, but one of the companies has unveiled an unusual plan. It says could help J price of the American Homefront project reports from Fort Bragg, North Carolina. This one's three bedrooms, two baths,

Speaker 2: 00:18 had their fuller works for that company, which is called core V.

Speaker 3: 00:21 so this wall actually comes down, so it opens up the whole kitchen area that has an Eden bar in the new layout. It makes the kitchen larger as well.

Speaker 2: 00:29 Vacant ranch-style duplex, she showing me in a Fort brag neighborhood is older but doesn't show significant wear and tear. In fact, it looks like it's ready for someone to move in, but the inside is about to be gutted.

Speaker 3: 00:42 It's just dated. So the tiles in the bathrooms, they're small. They're like built in the 1960s. So, um, we're renovating and making those larger. We've taken some of these floor plans and um, added a bedroom, 280

Speaker 2: 00:58 homes on Fort Bragg or getting the same treatment while several thousand more will get new heating and cooling systems and other improvements. Similar upgrades will be done on six other army bases where core Venus manages housing. So approximately 16,000 homes are going to receive some level of energy upgrade and information upgrades. John poseurs owns the company. He apologized to the Senate hearing earlier this year for what he admitted were unacceptable conditions and some of the housing by information upgrades. He means sophisticated systems that continually collect information on things like the heating and cooling systems, which could help the company know when maintenance is needed before expensive repairs are required. He and a group of outside lenders are pumping $325 million into the new program. And here's the unusual part. He says the program will pay for itself. Core will be able to pay the money back from the savings that will result.

Speaker 2: 01:56 So we have an estimated $300 million in savings over the next 30 years in energy efficiencies. And a portion of that will come from lowering the maintenance costs. More predictive maintenance is far less expensive than emergency maintenance troops who don't live in barracks get a housing allowance, most use it to live off base, but for those who use base housing, the allowance goes to companies like vias. It covers all housing and utility costs, but per certain said, the army reduced the housing allowance about the same time it's shrank by thousands of troops. After the peak of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, occupancy rates fell, the company's income fell and he said it made a mistake by scaling back at spending on renovations. And once you, you kind of take your eye off that ball, now you're playing catch up. And I think what we're doing here by making this large investment is trying to get ahead of the curve again instead of always playing from behind the game. The number of troops is up, which is helping. He said one brag resident Diane Woodrill said the benefits of renovated housing aren't just about getting the company back on track. There are plus to families like hers

Speaker 4: 03:10 as a military spouse. And going to live on base. I want to snag up on that. Either tell me it's been renovated or Hey, we've got brand new construction, we've got no mold issues, no bug issues or anything like that. Like you've cleared out every issue. There could be

Speaker 2: 03:25 her own two bedroom home where she lives with her husband and their four year old son isn't going to get the major renovations because it's not old enough. But she serves on a resident advisory group that was formed to give core vias feedback on what it can do to improve core Venus's new approach might start a trend. Patterns had some of the companies that manage housing on other bases have asked him for advice. The new program was unrelated to hundreds of other downs, new home construction and renovations that the company already had planned as part of the normal cycle of its 50 year agreement with the Pentagon. This is J price reporting.

Speaker 1: 04:01 This story was produced by the American Homefront project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans funding comes from the corporation for public broadcasting.

Speaker 5: 04:14 [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 00:00 And Oceanside woman with a passion for costume making has become an inspiration to kids across the country. KPBS reporter Prius Sri, their reports

Speaker 2: 00:11 now Senator godmother, are you ready to go? Once upon a time and ocean side lived a woman, Mandy rape, her husband Ryan and their eight year old daughter, Kaylee, the lightest tap, the gentlest touch, and she was dressed in a gown. Their tail is one of happiness and love and family, but it wasn't always an easy one. [inaudible] crystal that Mandy was born without an arm. They think that an amniotic band wrapped around it and just kept it from developing properly. So I've had my whole life to figure out how to adapt and do the things that I want to do after spending her childhood bouncing from place to place with her father, who was a pastor. Mandy eventually settled down in Florida. It was there that Mandy met Ryan.

Speaker 3: 00:55 I'm so fortunate that I found my own Prince charming. Um, he is so sweet and accepting and supportive in real life too.

Speaker 2: 01:03 The two fell in love. Ryan a Marine was living in San Diego. He flew his new love to California where the couple went to their own ball, the Marine Corps ball. Eventually they got married and had a baby girl

Speaker 4: 01:17 are basically our second, um, Valentine's day. We, uh, I went out and bought her a sewing machine cause in the Marine Corps my job is a parachute rigger or flood Colby technician. And we basically sold and repair, uh, fabric things that, uh, the air crew use. I bought her solutioning cause she is a theater arts major and she had her own little book of costumes. She wanted design for theater.

Speaker 5: 01:40 [inaudible]

Speaker 2: 01:40 it was that hobby that ended up transforming Mandy into a fairy godmother herself.

Speaker 5: 01:48 [inaudible]

Speaker 2: 01:48 she created some costumes for her daughter and friends, but then she got inspired.

Speaker 3: 01:54 My daughter had been studying Cinderella stories at school and I realized that there were all these beautiful tales from around the world, but there were still no princesses who looked like me. And so I just had the thought, if this character doesn't exist, I'm going to create [inaudible]

Speaker 5: 02:11 [inaudible]

Speaker 2: 02:11 she spent 60 hours creating a Cinderella ballgown and another 40 creating one for her Prince charming. She wasn't sure exactly what she wanted to do with it all, but she knew she wanted to highlight and celebrate her difference.

Speaker 3: 02:28 When I was growing up, I rarely saw anybody who looked like me on television. I still didn't see amputee women being portrayed as beautiful or strong. And so it took me a really long time to recognize that the things that make us different and unique can actually be really positive traits. And that

Speaker 2: 02:47 was the twist. Mandy decided instead of a glass slipper, her Cinderella would have a glass arm. After telling friends about her plan, she was linked up to a sculptor in who took one of her prosthetic arms and created a glass looking one out of clear resin. She posted the pictures on her Facebook and overnight the post went viral with thousands of likes. Actually,

Speaker 3: 03:12 I've been amazed that everybody has been so positive and encouraging. You know, it's kind of scary to put yourself out there on the internet like this, but it's been incredible how everyone has, uh, had just had positive messages to convey.

Speaker 2: 03:26 She now has received messages and pictures from families across the United States who say she's an inspiration. Her Prince charming says all of this couldn't be happening to a better person.

Speaker 4: 03:38 I'm very proud of her. Definitely. She's um, and she definitely deserves it. She's just a very sweet person, a very, a compassionate person for people.

Speaker 2: 03:46 Mandy has created a new Facebook page where she's invited her followers to share their own stories about celebrating their differences.

Speaker 3: 03:54 I began to realize, you know, this is something really special and I at least wanted kids who were like me, who had some kind of physical difference or limb difference to be able to see it, to maybe inspire them that they can be the hero of their own story too.

Speaker 2: 04:08 She says, this is just the beginning. This has been a complete dream come true for me. She says, her Cinderella story continues to evolve and she wants to help put the happy in the ever afters of many more children who might feel a little different. Joining me is KPBS reporter, Prius, Raytheon, and prio welcome. Thanks. This is one of those great stories that actually give people good news for a change. How did you find out about it? Yeah, so I'm actually in a bunch of Facebook groups for reporters and so someone had posted these pictures and they had somehow seeing them on somebody else's Facebook page and they said, Hey, does anyone happen to live near Oceanside? And when I saw how beautiful the pictures were, I thought I had to reach out to this woman and see if I could pursue the story. Wow.

Speaker 2: 04:56 Now when Mandy isn't wearing her glass arm, what kind of a prosthetic does she use? She actually doesn't use a prosthetic. She's just sort of gotten used to living her life with one arm and she's so used to it because she was born with only one arm. She has tried on different prosthetics but none of the sort of more high tech modern ones that actually you know, allow you to move your fingers and all that. She said she's tried them on but so far she hasn't been, you know, found any sort of insurance to cover it or anything like that. I mean she is interested in looking into it, but she's lived for so long with just doing everything with one arm that it's not completely necessary to her. So having this glass arm was a real change for her to actually have an object there.

Speaker 2: 05:41 Who is the sculptor in Arizona who made Mandy's glass arm? Yeah. So she had been working on this project for a month and all of her friends know her as someone who's always making costumes. So they're sort of always asking her, Hey Mandy, what are you working on? And she said, this time it's Cinderella and I want do a twist on the glass slipper and do a glass arm. But I have no idea. That's so out of my comfort zone. I really only know how to sew things. So one of her friends linked her up with a sculptor in Tucson who she still hasn't really met yet and it's kind of funny. His name is Gilbert Lozano. Um, and she almost views him as like the fairy godfather in this story because he, you know, heard about the story and was super inspired. And so she did mail him one of her prosthetic arms and um, he was able to cast it in resin, a clear looking resin. So it looks like glass, but it's not really glass. It's about two pounds, but she treats it like it's this really precious object and she wraps it up in cloth and carries it around everywhere. But it does fit onto her, um, just like a real arm would, but it doesn't actually move or anything like that.

Speaker 1: 06:43 Wow. No cause in the picture in the website, Mandy and her husband look like they just walked out of a Disney parade. I mean the costumes are beautiful, but it sounds like Mandy was a bit leery about posting that picture. What kind of reaction did she think she was going to get?

Speaker 2: 07:00 Yeah, so she said that somebody, um, had a daughter who was five years old who was also born with only one arm and that little girl just wanted to see the pictures. And so originally she literally just posted them on her own personal Facebook page for that little girl. And then somehow, you know how this happens in this day and age. Um, it sort of took off. And what was really, really sweet was I asked Mandy to think back to when she was that age and you know, if she had any role models to look up to. And she said the one person she always thinks about is Jim Abbott and I didn't know who he was, I don't know if you're familiar with him, but he was actually a major league baseball player from 1989 to 1999 who was born without an arm and he had a very successful baseball career.

Speaker 2: 07:40 He played for the angels here in California, the Yankees, the Chicago white Sox and the Milwaukee brewers. And she said watching him on TV as a kid really inspired her. But there aren't that many representations of people who have limb differences. Even though the CDC estimates that about 1500 babies in the U S are born every single year with upper limb differences and 750 babies are born every year with lower limb differences. So she thinks that this is just one of those great things about technology and social media that now you know, little kids across the United States who are born like this can find ways to connect with adults who have lived with limb differences too.

Speaker 1: 08:20 And how has the response been since the picture was posted? So

Speaker 2: 08:24 it's been incredible. So much so that her own personal Facebook page almost crashed. So she started this other Facebook page called be the spark caused play and she's, you know, encouraging other people with limb differences or whatever their, you know, disability might be to celebrate those differences. And she said one lady who really spoke to her, she dresses up as a different Disney character for all of her cancer treatments. And so she was sending her pictures of all the different costumes that she wears to her cancer treatments. And she initially, that woman did it for herself just to make herself feel happy because she was obviously going through a tough time in her life, but you know, it started sort of sending these ripple positive effects to everybody else in the hospital. And so it's just really amazing because all of these people who are struggling with different things are now have a platform to all connect to each other.

Speaker 2: 09:12 Well, I can see how Mandy going out there and having this beautiful picture with the glass arm is causing a lot of difference in young people's lives who are dealing with limb differences. How has this changed? Mandy, I hadn't heard of this term but she talked about lucky fins and apparently in finding Nemo another, you know, sort of cartoon movie, um, Nimo had a little fin that wasn't very useful. It was sort of like an extra Finn, but um, it was celebrated and you know, they decided in the movie to call it a lucky fin. So she said everybody has their little lucky fin. This is now everybody's sort of celebrating their own versions of their lucky fin. And I think, you know, she's obviously grown into herself. She's an adult, and she, I asked her what's the message that she would want to send to little kids across the United States who are looking up to her now as a role model?

Speaker 2: 10:02 And she said, there's going to be negativity everywhere, but it's important to surround yourself with people who love you. And that's going to be the way that you're going to shine and grow into yourself and, and love yourself. And I guess we know what they'll be wearing this Halloween. Yes. She's actually working on another Cinderella costume and it's going to be a peasant costume that's going to turn into a ballgown. So everyone should stay tuned and check out her Facebook page to see more pictures of that. It's terrific. I've been speaking with the KPBS reporter Prius. Truther thank you so much. Thanks.

Speaker 1: 00:00 What do you get when you mix the importance of being earnest? The school for wives, a narco tele novella and lots of bhanda songs to sing along to bad own braise. Good wives at San Diego rep, KPBS arts reporter Beth Armando speaks with the reps, playwright in residence, Herbert sequenza with the artistic director, Sam Woodhouse about the new comedy

Speaker 2: 00:23 Herbert. You've written bad Andres, good wives that's going to be performed at the San Diego rep. give us a little background on what this story is about.

Speaker 3: 00:30 Bad rooms is good. Wives isn't loose. Very loose adaptation of [inaudible] the school of wives and I've also added some other mashups into it. There's a little bit of a, the importance of being earnest. There's Romeo and Juliet and there's Hamlet and all these Eurocentric plays are mashed up into a narco novella. So it's, it's Moliere in Sinaloa.

Speaker 4: 00:54 We come in tonight, hands up nursing, most merciful father, the soul of my brother Mario gotten party every commit his body to the ground.

Speaker 2: 01:04 And are you, you've enjoyed kind of mashing those kinds of elements up before you did L Henry, which was Shakespeare and that was brilliant.

Speaker 3: 01:13 Thank you. Yeah, that was in 2014 where we, uh, where we have L Henry in a post apocalyptic, a San Diego, which was a lot of fun. We did it outdoors for the wow festival.

Speaker 2: 01:23 Sam, this has come through the Latin X play festival, new play festival. And so what is this like for the rep to kind of mentor in a play like this and then see it through to full production?

Speaker 5: 01:36 Well, Herbert is our playwright in residence courtesy of the Andrew w Mellon foundation. The fact that we have a Latin X festival became a platform for the presentation of this play as part of its development. But Herbert wrote this play in residence at our theater with the intention of us producing the play. And we are, here we go.

Speaker 2: 01:57 Herbert, what do you feel are kind of the themes that you want to play up that you want to connect with the audience?

Speaker 3: 02:02 It's exploring the myth of machismo because it is a myth. It's, it's, it's, it's something that's in our culture that it's acted upon. And, and, and, and, and, you know, we're now living in the, in the era of me too. And so I wanted to write something that addressed machismo in a new way. You know, because it's an old narrative. It's an old way of being right for a man to be in society. So we wanted to explore those themes in this play and just put my cheese on it, on, on, on hold, on hold and undisplaced to see how ridiculous it is and how dangerous it is. It really is

Speaker 5: 02:37 what happens when the traditional macho Mexican man runs into the young girl that he thought was his pawn and being raised to be the perfect subservient wife. And she turns out to be a feminist raised in an unary.

Speaker 3: 02:52 I think it's important to tell you about the original story. And it's a, it's about a man who, who a young girl that's being trained to be his perfect, loyal, submissive wife. You know, I mean, to me that's comedy already, you know, because that, that's impossible, right? But so, so this guy has the, he has the gall to think that he can do that. Right. And so of course she bring, he brings her to his town and she falls in love with a younger, uh, more age appropriate narco that she falls in love with. And so that's how the the Wars and show you [inaudible]

Speaker 2: 03:27 now, now you are not only the playwright here, you are also acting in it. And not only are you acting in this, you are playing a woman. So talk a little bit about this role.

Speaker 3: 03:36 Well, if you know by work, that's probably not a big surprise. Yes. I thought, I thought playing a woman in this particular play was important because I'm a man playing a, a dignified woman, you know, a traditional woman, an older woman. And it's just interesting that I, as a man, I'm making commentary about machismo and about feminism and marriage, but I'm a man, you know? So I think it's, it's, it's, it's, it's just ironic and I love that.

Speaker 2: 04:06 And I just got to see part of the rehearsal. Talk a little bit about what goes on in the rehearsal process for you in terms of fine tuning the plane, fine tuning what's going on on stage?

Speaker 3: 04:17 Well, we're now in our second week and that's when you start turning, you know, you start making, you start getting better, you start realizing, you started knowing, you're staging your, your lines and, and this is where we're turning the curve and it's starting to really set the play. It's a new play too. So the first week was all about the script and explorations and discussions,

Speaker 5: 04:39 but this being a new play, you can see you were in a rehearsal. It changes we made today. That happens all the time, hour after hour, we're making changes. It's just getting a little better. Little by little, as the broth is rising towards the top, hopefully, and becoming funnier and cleaner and clearer and sharper and smarter.

Speaker 3: 05:00 Yeah. And a play really doesn't come alive. It really doesn't live until you're into ya stage it. So we don't know that we don't know these things. We don't know these lines until we're in the space. And what have been the particular challenges of putting this play on? I feel very comfortable in this John HRA, which is slapstick comedy, uh, with a political bent. So I'm very at at ease right now, but, but I, I trust Sam to, to, to bring it out even more. And that's why we're, we worked together so well because I think he knows what I want and I'll suggest stuff. And if it works at, you know, it stays, we're just trying to create a show that's gonna be hilarious and, and it really is, it's going to be, I think it's my, my funniest play for sure on paper and probably onstage. You mentioned this

Speaker 2: 05:47 political comedy. I've interviewed some people who do political comedy and they said that we are at a time when they feel like they want to retire because they can't compete with what's going on in the real world

Speaker 3: 05:58 in terms of how absurd it's getting it. So how do you kind of attack political comedy in this particular time? Well, it'd be quite frankly, I think this is my least political comedy. Uh, it's more about the human condition. It's about, it's a sex farce, you know, and, and it's, and it's unapologetically funny and I think that's what we need right now. You know, I, I don't really want to write a play about kids in cages. You know what it would, what would that, we see that on the news every day. I don't have any commentary on my, not my commentary is outrage of course. But you don't want to go to the theater to the year that you know, so, so right now I think we need a laugh, you know, we need to show our culture and how beautiful we are and, and I think that's, that's to me it's political. How do you think comedy can help kind of get a message across in ways that other things cannot?

Speaker 5: 06:46 Well, when people are laughing, they are open. They are much more open to an idea, to a thought, to a message when they're laughing. Or you could also say when a piece of music is being played, people are more open to being influenced by a point of view. When you're laughing, you surrender to the moment. How about that? And then the moment can be expressed from the stage as we wish. And I think comedy opens up your heart, which opens up

Speaker 3: 07:14 in your mind. Yeah. And then that's, that's the great opportunity to inject some message in a message in there.

Speaker 5: 07:20 You know, the other thing that this is, is this a behavioral social comedy? Yeah. We're, we're having fun putting on stage the various manifestations of machismo. That's funny actually. And also a feminism as well. That's funny too. If you push it, any of those isms far enough, you arrive in the land of humor.

Speaker 3: 07:44 All right. Well, I want to thank you both very much for talking to me about bad Andres and good wives.

Speaker 5: 07:50 Thank you. Can't wait to show it to people. Can't wait to finish staging. [inaudible]

Speaker 6: 07:55 he escaped too. They had a good head phone. Oh,

Speaker 3: 08:06 San Diego wraps bad on good wives. Opens tomorrow and runs through October 27th on the Lyceum stage.

Speaker 6: 08:22 [inaudible] who gave you the it [inaudible]. [inaudible] that's when [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] y'all [inaudible] Hey, don't bother me. [inaudible] [inaudible] Ooh.

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KPBS Midday Edition

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily talk show hosted by Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon, keeping San Diegans in the know on everything from politics to the arts.