Border Wall Funding, Water Authority Turmoil, Plastic Sediment On The Rise
KPBS Midday Edition / September 4, 2019
The Pentagon is shifting money from military projects to help fund Trump’s border wall. Also, two small agencies want a separation from the San Diego County Water Authority, the annual amount of plastic sediment found in the Santa Barbara Basin has doubled every 15 years since the 1940s, finding love after Alzheimer’s takes a spouse, and a Central Valley Mariachi releases her debut album as she sets off to study at Harvard.
Speaker 1: 00:00 Democrats are angry over the Trump administration's move to shift three point $6 billion in military construction projects to build sections of wall along the Mexico border of 11 wall projects. Plan for construction with diverted funds, eight are in the San Diego, El Centro and Yuma sectors. Joining me via Skype is politico reporter Jacqueline Felcher who's covering this developing story today. Welcome to midday edition. Thanks for having me. We'll start with the scope of this announcement from Defense Secretary Mark Esper. How much wall are we talking about?
Speaker 2: 00:34 Uh, I'm actually not sure about about the length of wall. We've really been covering sort of that the military construction projects that are going to be funded there are going to be defunded to be able to cover this. It's 127 military projects both in the u s and internationally that are going to be at least temporarily unfunded to pay to either build new structures of wall or replaced the sections of walls that are there and need an update.
Speaker 1: 00:57 I think I had read the reporting was about 175 of miles total of course. I guess that could change. What does the Defense Secretary Esper, what does he say, how this will improve border enforcement?
Speaker 2: 01:09 So the, the Pentagon's theory about this is that the sections where there currently isn't wall need to be patrolled by people and either building new sections of wall or improving barricades that are already there by, by making them higher, a more secure in some way will eliminate the need for troops to, to be down there. The hope is that some of the troops who are currently deployed down there will be able to go home and it will also force migrants trying to enter the u s to enter at specific checkpoints that the Department of Homeland Security has man versus coming across the border at, at other areas that will sort of force them to go through areas where there are currently people who can help them get into the country.
Speaker 1: 01:50 Alright. And you mentioned 127 projects that they're going to be taking money from. As I understand that those are going to be specifically announced today. They're trying to notify congressional representatives about which ones are in whose districts. But how was it decided which projects would be delayed?
Speaker 2: 02:07 Yes, the notification, the notifications are are currently ongoing. We're seeing congressional offices as they get notified, summer releasing, which projects will be impacted it and some are not. A full list will be out later today. The way the pending on decided this was to look at readiness concerns. They obviously didn't want to touch things that are gonna impact troop readiness and they also are not impacting a barracks or family housing. So the places that troops live will not, you know, be, be left in disrepair because of this. And they also didn't want to touch awards that were going to be made very soon. So anything that was expected to be awarded in fiscal 2019 over about the next month is also not going to be part of this. So it's both readiness concerns and sort of dealing with things that are a little bit further out in the hopes that Congress will, will backfill this money. And these projects will actually still end up happening in the long run.
Speaker 1: 03:02 And of course time will tell if that happens. Congress last year denied Trump's requests for funding for construction on his border wall. Remind us of how the administration is attempting to go around Congress and his decision to block funds for the wall.
Speaker 2: 03:15 So the administration has declared a national emergency at the border and they're using that. They're attempting to use the these military construction funds. So this is money that was slated to improve infrastructure on bases that that type of thing. They're saying that because there's a national security crisis at the border, they can use this money to to help build the border wall and pressed on this during a briefing. It depending on, yesterday the Defense Department's top spokesman just said that this is, this has been decided that it's lawful. Lots of lawyers have looked at it and decided that this is a correct way to use the money and really wouldn't talk at all about what sort of precedent this sets for using military money for, for any sort of project where the administration decides to deploy troops.
Speaker 1: 04:01 And what's been the reaction of Democrats to this announcement?
Speaker 2: 04:04 There has been just widespread outrage about, you know, the president president overstepping the fact that, you know, they all alleged that the president is essentially robbing from the troops and the taxpayers to find this wall that, that Congress would not find. And there's also, Ken put some Republicans in, in a tight spot if a Republican is, you know, on the Armed Services Committee, supportive of the troops living in, you know, a district that might be impacted by the wall, they're going to have to really walk a fine line between supporting the wall and supporting the troops who are potentially not getting needed updates to pay for that.
Speaker 1: 04:42 Yeah. So that is a tight spot for even some Republicans. What can Democrats do to fight this move by the administration?
Speaker 2: 04:48 We, we've seen a lot of letters so far. Um, a lot of questions about sort of how these decisions were made. Um, I, I mean I expect we'll see a lot more coming days, potentially hearings hearings on the subject. And of course, you know, in 2020 congress will be able to, to pass appropriations bills that again, either fund to this or, or don't fund it.
Speaker 1: 05:07 And there's a lawsuit in California already over this issue. The American civil liberties unions are ready to file an update on that, right?
Speaker 2: 05:14 Yes. The HCLU did say yesterday that they are planning to file a motion to block the transfer of this money, basically pointing out that it's been months since the Trump administration announced this. Can you really say it's that much of an emergency if it's lasted months without this money? Is, is their argument according to the statement they released yesterday?
Speaker 1: 05:36 Alright. And we'll see how that lawsuit plays out. Well, I've been speaking with political reporter, Jaclyn Felcher. Thanks very much. Thank you.
Speaker 3: 05:47 [inaudible].
Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego. Lynn's already pay some of the highest prices for water in the country and on Sunday water rates increased. Again, those high prices are leading to water agencies, the Fallbrook public utility district and the rainbow municipal water district to find water from a cheaper source, which is the eastern municipal water district based up in Riverside. But Voice of San Diego reporter rive Revard who covers issues surrounding water and power, says the San Diego County Water Authority is not going to just let them go without a fight. Rye joins us now. Rye. Welcome. Hi. Thanks for having me. So the water authority is serious about trying to keep those two agencies in the fold. What does the agency say had plans to do to prevent their departure? Well, I mean they, they might accept the terms of a divorce, but they definitely want some alimony payments. Um, they're saying, hey, if these two agencies are going to leave their 24 agencies that form the water authority, we've all together invested billions of dollars, they're gonna need their PA pay their fair share for those investments before they leave.
Speaker 1: 01:00 And the water authority was formed 75 years ago to buy water from the Colorado River and then resell it to local agencies. A Fallbrook was a founding member and rainbow joined a decade later. Is there any precedent for such local agencies to leave the water authority? No, nothing like it. Um, there has been rebellions in the past. Um, North County in particular where there's been a lot of farming has been particularly concerned about, uh, the, the price of water. And I'm about 20 years ago, 25 years ago, they were concerned about a major water deal that the water authority was contemplating and eventually signed, uh, to buy water rights from farmers in the Imperial Valley. That water would end up being somewhat expensive in San Diego and the farmers in North county were concerned and rightly so, that that more expensive water would affect their profitability. And so you've seen a lot of farms go out of business in part because of water costs and the eastern municipal water district and Riverside gets its water from the Metropolitan Water district in Los Angeles.
Speaker 1: 02:01 Uh, the San Diego County Water Authority buys water from metropolitan as well. Why is our water more expensive than theirs? So it's interesting. There's the city of San Diego, just to think about this, the city of San Diego buys water from the water authority. The water authority buys water from, among others, the Metropolitan Water district, they have water rights that a, they have with farmers in the imperial valley to raise the water from the Colorado River. So everybody's buying water from, from everybody else. And each time they buy it, they have their own markup and part of that market, none of these agencies are profiting. Um, but they have their own different costs. And one of the costs that the water authority has taken on over the years is after a drought in the 1990s, that metropolitan, which was then the primary supplier for all of southern California, including the water authority, what metropolitan just wasn't prepared for that drought.
Speaker 1: 02:48 And the water authority said, hey, we're going to do a bunch of things to make water more reliable. And when you do that, when you buy special water rights, when you build a desalination plant like they built in Carlsbad to make ocean water, all that comes with a cost. And so the water authorities water is likely more reliable, but also more expensive. If member agencies start leaving, then water prices go up for everyone else, right? Uh, that's the theory. The water authorities put together some estimates and they say that there'll be about $13 million a year in costs, um, that rainbow and Fallbrook won't be paying that customers that are left, uh, buying water from the water authority, uh, will have to pay, including customers in the, in the city of San Diego, that translates very, very roughly to several dollars a year per customer. So why does the basic business logic of supply and demand to not apply here?
Speaker 1: 03:40 Well, it's interesting. So there'll be right, fewer people buying the, roughly the same amount of water. Um, a lot of the costs are fixed costs. So the water that the water authority has signed contracts to buy, um, from the Colorado River for instance, that's fixed. They, they can't save money by buying more or less. Um, the same thing with the desal unaided water that we're buying from a private company that has that plant in Carlsbad that's fixed. You can't buy more or less than save money. Really. Um, so, and then there are also infrastructure costs. There are dams that have been raised. Um, there's pipelines that have been built. None of those costs go away. So on the supply side, the Water Authority is basically in longterm contracts to buy a fixed amount of water. And on the infrastructure side, those pipes don't get up and walk away either.
Speaker 1: 04:27 So speaking of infrastructure, if Fallbrook and ray and rainbow do leave a, will they have to build any new infrastructure to buy their water from eastern as opposed to the water authority. So one of the interesting things that a fall broken rainbow talk about that makes them unique is the way the pipeline infrastructure works is metropolitan system actually comes partway into San Diego County. And then the water authority has built its own system to connect to that rainbow. And Fallbrook are by and large and almost entirely still on the metropolitan side of that pipeline. So they say, hey, we're not really benefiting from a lot of the infrastructure that the water authority is build that is further south than North County. And so they can continue to get water from essentially the same pipelines. They'll have to build, um, some systems to move water a little bit differently in their area.
Speaker 1: 05:15 But it's, it's not a big thing. At least they don't think so in terms of costs. So then is there any chance this could get worked out without having to go to court and, and how might that happen? I've been, uh, covering water in San Diego for four and a half years. Um, the water authority has a reputation for being litigious. They always say, yeah, well, we're defending our interests. Um, I find it somewhat unlikely that there won't be some sort of a court case. And Do, how involved do you think this court case could get? Well, I mean, there is a chance that this could get resolved by this really obscure agency called the local agency Formation Commission that, uh, draws boundaries, like city limits and water district limits and where fire department service areas are. There's a chance that everything can get worked out, um, by this, this commission. Um, but if not, uh, you know, court cases last years. All right, I've been speaking with voice of San Diego, reporter Rye. Revard. Thank you so much for joining us. Thanks for having.
Speaker 1: 00:00 A lot of daily care that dementia patients need isn't covered by regular insurance, so families have to step in themselves to care for loved ones in California. 1 million people are caregivers for Alzheimer's patients alone. We follow the parallel stories of two California caregivers who were forced into early retirement when their spouses were diagnosed in their 50s it's been a painful journey, but in the process, something unexpected happened.
Speaker 2: 00:27 My name is John Lucas. I grew up in southern California in a city called Downey and we are currently at Cedar Creek in Los Gatos, which is a Alzheimer's and dementia care facility. Sharon is also from the same city. Downey. We met in high school, so we were high school sweethearts. She asked me to Sadie Hawkins dance when I was 16 years old, so yeah, high school sweetheart, very funny person, very lively. She continued with that personality all throughout her life until the disease hit her.
Speaker 3: 01:00 [inaudible] [inaudible]
Speaker 4: 01:00 hi, I'm Pat Martin and I'm from Fremont, California and we're sitting in my living room. One of the things and, and I've learned this now that I'm on the other side of this thing, is that caregivers in this situation really do believe I can do it myself. Bill had an atypical form of Alzheimer's disease, which is a frontotemporal dementia. So the first thing that started showing up for bill was his speech.
Speaker 2: 01:27 My daughter started noticing things too. And so eventually they said, dad, I think you need to take mom in to to see someone. That was a very hard conversation cause when I told her, I told my wife, I want to take you into the doctor cause you have a memory problems. She got very resistive to it and was in denial and she thought I was trying to get rid of her and that I thought she was crazy. And she was 55 when they started that process.
Speaker 4: 01:50 He was having some difficulty at work as well. And so he went to see a neurologist and the neurologist said, you know, it's probably stress, you know, Bill was in his early fifties at this time. I said, well you know, he's just not the same person. He kind of apathy, not, you know, not interested in life. And they actually, he actually said to me at that time, at that interview, I'll never forget this, they actually said, are you sure it's not you? Could this be menopause or something that's making you over-sensitive to him? So I could, at that time I couldn't, I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe it. Well
Speaker 2: 02:30 by the time she got the diagnosis, she was far enough along, she didn't understand what it meant. And originally we actually decided that we weren't going to tell her what, what the diagnosis was because she wasn't gonna understand it. It was going to be a hard conversation. After about three months or two or three months of that, it was, it was gut wrenching to us to try to keep it a secret and it didn't seem fair to her. So a Thanksgiving weekend, my daughters came home, we sat her down on the couch and we had, we had that discussion with her that she had disease and she had about eight or 10 years on average to live. We all had a big cry five minutes later. Sure enough, she had forgotten it and we moved on. But we felt better that we'd had the conversation. Yet
Speaker 4: 03:13 when you finally got so bad that the dementia was moving into other areas of his brain, that he finally got diagnosed with primary Progressive Aphasia, which is a type of frontotemporal dementia. He had retired by that point because he wasn't able to work. So he didn't really retire with disability. And, uh, I had to retire at age 49 to take care of him
Speaker 2: 03:35 as the 24, seven caregiver for her. At first, it just starts out keeping her entertained, making meals for doing all the cleaning, all the bill paying, whatever. But then it goes beyond that. She started to not be able to sleep at night time, kind of flip flopped on her. So I was starting to lose sleep. I cordoned off the house such that she could be safe in an area walking around at night while I tried to get some sleep. At the same time I was going to a support group and they were all telling me, you know, you gotta be thinking about placing her, you know, and I was trying to, trying to be the hero and not have to do that.
Speaker 4: 04:16 And for me it reached a breaking point. Our daughter Liz was playing college soccer and bill had been her coach all through her youth and we had nothing else to do. So I just made sure we went to every one of her college games and I thoroughly enjoyed it and so to bill, but as his disease started progressing, we were at a game and her senior year and bill in the middle of the game got up and went out on the field. I had to get two men to pull him off the field. We had to take him out and basically close a chain link fence. I think he thought he was the coach and that's when I realized that this is more than I can do
Speaker 3: 04:57 [inaudible]
Speaker 4: 04:57 eventually I had to place bill in a memory care facility. None of that is covered by any kind of insurance. So probably spent a little over $300,000 on his care. We were lucky we had the money to be able to do that. Many people don't have those kinds of means.
Speaker 2: 05:15 My retirement nest egg, some inheritance I got and currently some social stuff I've taken started taking social security early so they can help pay for it. And I have uh, moved out of my house and I'm renting it out to try to help with the costs. So we have programs all day long from entertainment games, reading trivia stuff and then just try it. The ones that they can keep active, they try to keep them at. A lot of them just sit around sleeping. And so this is Sharon [inaudible].
Speaker 5: 05:57 Sharon, how are you today? Look very nice today. Sorry. Just forgot how to use the doors so she can't get out of door unless somebody takes her off. She quit talking about probably a year and a half ago you some candies, but your favorite m and m's chocolate freak. She has a little hard time finding them in my hand. Sharing why candy we brought you. That's kind of how the day is spent. You want one more? Hello? [inaudible]
Speaker 2: 06:40 it was the hardest decision I've ever made and it was the most amazing feeling coming out of here. All the emotions that hit freedom, guilt, sadness, joy, all of it coming down all at once. I just sat out in that parking lot for about 15 minutes and cried. And then I went home and started living my life again. Still her caregiver here. Uh, but I've, I've moved on.
Speaker 4: 07:11 John is still in the, in the midst of the journey with Sharon and I understand that that journey is very difficult. I mean, he has a foot in two different worlds right now and I can be somebody that he can, he can say anything to.
Speaker 2: 07:29 So we actually met through the advocacy program. Uh, we were both going out for our first, they call it a forum advocacy forum in Washington d C so when we got back from the forum, we had become, uh, friends on Facebook. Um, we set up a, a get to know you date at a coffee place in Santana row and we spent three hours talking to each other. The crowd faded away. We forgot we were even sitting in a coffee house. It was a magical three hours. And after that we just started dating more. And um, we fell in love and you know, it's been three years now.
Speaker 4: 08:04 We talked about the fact we, we, we really are living life for four people because bill and Sharon, they got robbed.
Speaker 2: 08:12 I envision a marrying pat and, uh, we'll have a big celebration of life for Sharon at some point and I hope that all of her friends and family come. It's really a celebration of life than people have gone through this loss and grief process for so long with Sharon that I think it's going to be a big relief to everyone once she's, when she's not suffering anymore.
Speaker 6: 08:40 [inaudible]
Speaker 1: 08:41 Sharon Lucas was admitted to hospice recently. John and pat are asking Congress for more funding for Alzheimer's research, more support for caregivers and early detection programs. That story was produced by Mary Franklin. Harvin
Speaker 7: 08:58 [inaudible].
Speaker 1: 00:00 And I. E. Edina Morales is an 18 year old Mariachi musician from the Central Valley town of Delano. She just released her first album, [inaudible] and Anna Clo. She's won a number of competitions for voice, Violin, and trumpet, including the Shining Star award at the highly competitive battle of the Mariachis and San Juan Capistrano. She's heading off to Harvard this fall, just as her album makes its debut. California host Sasha Koka, spoke with her about how growing up in Delano influenced her and how she found her voice in a genre typically dominated by older men
Speaker 2: 00:34 and we're talking to her from the campus radio station at Hartford high. They're on a high, so you come from a musical family. Your parents are both Mariachi musicians. Your Dad played in some of the most famous Mariachi groups in the world. Mariachi lo scam, Peros Mariachi sold the Mexico and now your family teaches music to kids at a studio in Delaney. Tell me about what it was like to grow up in such a musical family.
Speaker 3: 01:01 I'm very grateful that I grew up in that household and it kept me very close to my culture. And I'm very grateful for that, especially, you know, being so, so far from home now and I know that I can easily connect to my family and, and my, my Mexican culture just by singing a Mariachi song.
Speaker 4: 01:29 [inaudible] my boss. [inaudible]
Speaker 2: 01:44 the title track from your album [inaudible] it's one of several that you perform with other youth musicians on this album, including Mariachi Mestizo which is where you got your start. It's a group that your parents founded and you guys have actually played at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. What do you think that playing Mariachi music gives to young people from places like Delano or the Central Valley?
Speaker 3: 02:08 Obviously Delaney is a community of Mexican immigrants and there's also a lot of Filipino culture there. And I think Mariachi in a community like that definitely gives kids a creative outlet and definitely keeps them out of the sort of gang violence that's present in that community. And it's very nurturing to their cultural backgrounds, I think. And a lot of kids at the studio enroll in the studio because their grandparents or their parents want them to play that music or their grandparents. And parents were Mariachi
Speaker 4: 02:52 [inaudible]
Speaker 2: 02:54 you know, songs like this are usually performed by much older musicians know singing about love and heartbreak and, and usually they're male Mariachi's like in this version by Bedro Vargas.
Speaker 5: 03:08 [inaudible]
Speaker 3: 03:19 [inaudible] I don't think there should ever be sort of like these stereotypes about who can sing what. Oh, I'm lucky to have grown up in a household where my dad was the only male. So my family is full of super strong women. And I also think that was important in me feeling confident to sing whatever I wanted. And also, you know, the stories that these songs tell about falling in love and getting your heart broken and dying and joining your lover in heaven. Like definitely they're very dramatic stories and I think I'm a dramatic person, so I think they fit well with my personality. But also, um, I feel like they're all narratives that people can relate to.
Speaker 2: 04:06 You've even got one song on this album. [inaudible] where are you seeing in mixed, which is one of the indigenous languages of Wahaca. It's a place a lot of farm workers in the central valley come from. Did you have to learn me stick off for that song.
Speaker 3: 04:20 I am definitely not fluent in. Makes that go. So you can hear like my little accent in there at times or maybe some rich pronunciations.
Speaker 4: 04:33 Yeah. And [inaudible].
Speaker 3: 04:50 So you're starting your freshman year at Harvard right now. It's a big leap from Delano. And what are you hoping to study? Right now the goal is to become a doctor and go back to the valley and offer them the holistic and affordable medical services that they have been deprived of forever. I definitely want to continue pursuing music, but more as a hobby. I feel like that might be a more practical route to take in terms of a career.
Speaker 2: 05:25 My parents are both musicians. Are they discouraging you from following that path?
Speaker 3: 05:30 They've been nothing but supportive of my music aspirations, but I've also seen how difficult it can be when you know your sole source of income is how many gigs you can get on one weekend. And I want to, you know, help my family with any financial burdens they have once I graduate and get a job.
Speaker 2: 05:50 That's Ana Edina Morales. She's a Mariachi musician from the central valley and she's just released her first album, sped ami in Sienna. She spoke with us from Harvard where she's starting her first year. Thanks [inaudible] for talking with us.
Speaker 1: 06:04 Thank you. [inaudible]. She is phenomenal. And again, Miralis won her award in San Juan Capistrano. That was California report magazine host, Sasha Coca. I'm amen. Ellis
Speaker 4: 06:26 [inaudible].
Speaker 1: 00:00 Horror author Joe Hills characters came to life earlier this summer in a new supernatural horror TV show. The series is based on Hill's bestselling novel Nosferatu, which premiered on AMC in June. It's about a secret community of people who have unusual occult power powers. In 2013 hill spoke with KPBS arts reporter, Beth OCHA, Amando and San Diego. Shortly after the novels release. I want to ask you about the title of your book, but since I'm someone who tends to sit behind cars baffled by their license plates,
Speaker 2: 00:31 you'd introduced the title. Yeah. The title of the new book is n o s four 82, which is the vanity license plate on the bad guys automobile. And if you sound it out, it spells Nosferatu, which is the German word for vampire. So in this case, was this a title that came to you first and then the story or did the story come first? The title came to me fairly early on. Uh, the book is full of wordplay and puzzles and I wanted the title to represent that in some way. I wanted the title to force the reader to stop and sort of scratch their heads and say, what the heck is that? And I think readers kind of enjoy that sort of thing. Alright. You've hinted a little bit as to what the story's about. So why don't you give us a little thumbnail of what this novels about?
Speaker 2: 01:16 Yeah. Nosferatu or an o s 42 is a about a wicked man with a car that runs on human souls instead of gasoline. This man, Charlie Manx has survived for over a century by taking his passengers, usually children on long drives. And in the course of these drives, he drained something essential from them, some essential life force. And when he's done with them, there is nothing left except Haight and teeth. And he takes those kids who are now monstrous and drops them in this horrible amusement park called Christmas land. So that's the villain of the story. And he is ease. Use that energy from them, that the car sucks out of them to keep himself young. And he's opposed by a woman named Victoria McQueen who has an unlikely impossible right of her own to try and Bonneville motorcycle, which can warp reality. Charlie Manx uses his ride to destroy lives.
Speaker 2: 02:14 Victoria McQueen uses her powerful ride to save lives and the two of them find themselves in opposition across 25 years and thousands of miles. You grow up also with comics and there's a tradition of horror and comics. How did comic books influence you at all in terms of how you viewed horror and your interest in that? Comics are largely known as a medium that explores the adventures of men in tights and capes. But when I was a kid, I didn't really read those comics. The comics I read were the ones being written by Neil Gaiman and he, you know, his groundbreaking series Sandman and Alan Moore, who had had a remarkable run on a horror series called swamp thing, about a pile of talking moss. And also my father had a hardcover collection of tales from the crypt, the notorious comic from the fifties, uh, about the crypt keeper and, um, the old witch.
Speaker 2: 03:03 And it was an anthology series, uh, telling various stories of the grotesque and the horrifying, it was wonderful. Just, it was absolutely, absolutely captured. You know, my 13 year old imagination comics originally in the 30s and forties and 50s they always, superheroes were always popular, but I think in their early days it's fair to say that they were just as well known as a place to read stories of crime, suspense and horror. What happened in the late fifties was the congressional hearings on juvenile delinquency led to a connection in the popular mind between the horror comics and little boys acting out. And as a result, the comics code was invented and comics were cleaned up. And I think that that was a great disaster. And the reputation of the comic book industry to This Day has not really fully recovered. This is an issue which is pretty personal to me because I write an ongoing comic series called lock and key lock and key is the story of a 250 year old new England mansion filled with impossible magical keys.
Speaker 2: 04:08 Each key has a separate power and there's one key that no one should ever use, uh, called the Omega Key. And naturally there's a Beastie that wants to get his hands on it. You are can horror, which is a genre that is sometimes maligned, sometimes not taken seriously. But what do you think makes for good horror? Horror is that sensation that comes over you when you found a character, you really care about someone who seems emotionally satisfying and interesting. Someone with a history, someone with regrets, someone who is a little bit of a puzzle to solve a character you're invested in. And you see that character for us to struggle with, the worst faced with terrifying darkness and you feel empathy for them. And that's a very humane emotion. And you know, when horror fails, it's because it never asks you to feel that emotion. Instead, it asks you to sympathize with Freddy Krueger or the guys running the hostel.
Speaker 2: 05:04 Um, the diabolical killer and saw who put people in these sort of ridiculous razor. Why are most traps just to watch them get sliced up? And A, I don't like to root for the bad guys. I like to root for the good guys. You have a famous father, Stephen King. I wanted to ask you, recently, we just saw David Cronenberg son just made a film, Brandon Cronenberg man antiviral, you see a family connection, but you don't sense that this is a son working in his father's shadow and there's a bit of that with you that you've kind of ended up in a similar genre or the same genre as your father. There's like a family gene going on there, but very distinct and different styles. And I was just wondering what kind of an influence did your dad have and did you feel it in some way you were destined to work in this genre?
Speaker 2: 05:50 No, I mean for a long time I was scared of my dad's influence and wanted desperately to carve out my own identity. And one of the things I did when I was in college was I did some thinking about my last name and finally decided to drop it for professional purposes. So instead of being Joseph King, I became Joe Hill and I submitted all my work anonymously. My first breakthrough story was a short story called pop art about the friendship between a juvenile delinquent and an inflatable boy named Arthur Roth. A artist made a plastic and weigh six ounces and if he sat in a sharpened pencil would kill him and I had so much fun writing that story and then I sent it out and the third place I sent it to bought it. As soon as I started to write stories of dark fantasy, it was like the key turning in the ignition and the car came to life and suddenly I was moving.
Speaker 2: 06:40 Do you think to be a good horror writer you need to in some way, shape or form embrace the darkness? I think that, I don't know if this is precisely answering your question, but I'll tell you what. We read nonfiction to resolve questions that have concrete answers. We read fiction to address questions that don't have concrete answers. For example, what happens to us when we die? Another question that we ask ourselves is, what will it be like when I finally have to face my own death? What would it be like to have to face a bad death? Most of us are probably not going to be devoured by Hannibal Lecter, but some of us will be devoured by cancer. And I think that we go to fiction because fiction is a safe playground to explore. Questions that are scary, facing monsters facing the inevitability of our own death is scary, but in the safe playground of fiction, when instead of cancer, it's Hannibal Lecter. We can have some fun with it and maybe at the same time we can learn something about how we want to be when we have to face our own dark moments. In that sense, I think fiction can be rehearsal for the harder passages in life and and so on that way. I think it, you know, fiction is one of our more positive inventions.
Speaker 1: 07:52 That was KPBS arts reporter Beth huck Amando speaking with horror author Joe Hill, his novel Nosferatu has been adapted into a new TV series on AMC.