NAVWAR Redevelopment, Carl DeMaio On His Second Congressional Run, SDUSD School Board Race, History Of Gender-Neutral Pronouns And New Play At Diversionary Theatre
KPBS Midday Edition / February 10, 2020
Speaker 1: 00:01 The plan to build a transit hub with a connection to San Diego's airport is taking a major step forward. The Navy and SANDAG is regional planning agency. SANDAG are working together to develop a transit hub on the site of the nav war facilities in the midway district and have signed an agreement to redevelop the 70 acre site, but much more work remains to be done this week. The Navy will begin holding a series of meetings to get the public to weigh in on the proposal. Joining us to talk more about the project is San Diego union Tribune reporter Jennifer van Grove. Jennifer, welcome. Thank you for having me. So can you start by telling us about the current nav war site and the vision for this project? What does it entail? Yeah, so the current site is, I think it's exactly 72 acres and it's split. There's one large site which pretty much everyone in San Diego is familiar with.
Speaker 1: 00:51 They've driven past it, it, it's those airport hangers along the five freeway and then across, I believe it's Pacific highway, my beginning of my street song, there's a a parking lot that's also a part of this site. And so, um, the Navy has a sense 2018 wanted to redevelop this, um, property, uh, or, or, or rather get new headquarters for the cybersecurity personnel that worked there. So there's about 5,000 or 6,000 people that work on site today. Half are full time are full time and the other half are contractors. But the problem is they are obsolete. The facilities are obsolete for what they are used for their world war II era hangers. They were there, you know, for aircraft, uh, for building aircraft. They are not designed for the type of work that's being done there. And so the Navy, um, initially put out what's called a request, um, for interest to see who would be interested in building us a new headquarters possibly on this site, possibly on another, you know, Navy parcel in exchange for either leasing or owning our property and kind of getting to do whatever they want because there are no coastal height restrictions.
Speaker 1: 02:00 Although, although I should say the Navy and SANDAG are certainly, we want to be sensitive to the community in and around the site. So what do they want to do with the property? What does the, the project entailed in? Well, so we don't really have a project yet. So we know two things. We know SANDAG wants a transportation hub that includes some sort of people mover to the airport and then the Navy wants new headquarters for its personnel. Beyond that there is no project. And so that's kind of where this arrangement between the Navy and SANDAG comes in. Right? So they can, they signed an exclusivity agreement, um, in January and now they're collectively moving forward. There will be some sort of term sheet as far as like who's going to be taking over the property and when, and then SANDAG responsibility will be to go out to private developers and say, what can you build us on this site?
Speaker 1: 02:53 They believe however it can support housing, it can support retail, it can support office that's complimentary to the cybersecurity work already been done by the [inaudible] workers. So where does the airport connection come in? Well, you know that it's a parallel process and obviously there's still a lot of like local action that needs to be taken on that. But as we know, SANDAG has orchestrated the airport connectivity subcommittee. I think it's been disbanded, but that committee, um, was kind of working together, are bringing people across San Diego together to kind of come up with a cohesive vision. And so there is a consensus that we should do a people mover what that looks like. Um, and whether it's the final way forward, we don't know. But the idea would be to put some sort of people mover on this property. So you would take transit from around the County.
Speaker 1: 03:46 To this hub then take the people mover as a direct connection into the airport site. There would be some sort of, um, terminal on airport property that then would direct you to terminal one or terminal tail. And tell us about the importance of this agreement. Does this mean it's a done deal? Well, it means that the Navy's relationship and SANDAG relationship is a done deal. It's ex, it's, it's exclusive. So the Navy has kind of canceled their request for interest, which I mentioned earlier. And they're working exclusively with SANDAG. Does it mean the project will come to fruition? No, there are so many approvals. You have the environmental review at the federal level that is starting right now. Then you have the state level, um, environmental review, which has Sonic throttle with SANDAG has, has kind of suggested, and maybe they'll, they'll try to get a pass for that.
Speaker 1: 04:38 I'm not sure how they do that truthfully. But, um, and then you have approvals that are required by know city council and the FAA and all sorts of other governing bodies. So we're a long ways away from knowing what this is and when we'll see it. But I think if you talk to Navy leadership and SANDAG leadership, the fact that they're so aligned and working together so closely is just a positive, a sign of what's to come. And you know, SANDAG has already used 50 million just to study the feasibility of this project. Is there any sense of how much it will cost and where the money will come from? That is like the best question and obviously I continue to ask it of them. I don't think that full 50 million has been spent. I do know his son told me that they'll probably go back to their board in April and ask for more funding just for, it's for planning style.
Speaker 1: 05:33 And this is apparently a very expensive process to undertake. Um, the people mover, airport, uh, connection plus transit hub, preliminary estimates put that, you know, $4 billion or greater and that doesn't include, you know, the Navy facilities or any sort of private development. And so we're talking billions upon billions of dollars here. And where the money is going to come from is a huge question Mark. Um, the airport does have some money to kind of help fund some airport related projects, but we don't know how much is going to go to this endeavor. Um, and how much will go to other projects. The Navy will hold two public meetings on the transit hub project starting this Thursday and next Wednesday, February 19th from four to seven at the Liberty station conference center. I've been speaking with San Diego union Tribune reporter Jennifer van Grove. Jennifer, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you.
Speaker 1: 00:00 One of the most significant congressional elections in San Diego this year is the race to see who will win the 50th district in East and North County, a district that has been represented by a Duncan Hunter, either the father or the son. For the last four decades, Duncan D Hunter pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds and resigned from the house in January. Now four front runners including three Republicans and one Democrat are running to replace him today. We'll hear from Republican Carl DeMaio who is familiar to many as a radio talk show host and a podcast him. He served on the San Diego city council for one term and has run for mayor of San Diego and Congress but unsuccessfully. So Colonel, thank you so much for coming in. Thanks for having me. So now the president was acquitted in the Senate just this last week. Some Republican sentences said the president's behavior was wrong but didn't rise to the level of impeachment.
Speaker 1: 00:52 Are you in the camp of those who say he did nothing wrong? Look, I looked at the transcripts. I've, I've seen what this is really about. The, the, this is an abuse of power by Democrats. They started impeaching president Trump, even before the ballots were counted in 2016 when that is clearly the pattern of behavior here. Nothing that they say can be taken seriously. Um, we need to get on with the work of the American people. Uh, Congress has been sidelined by witch hunts and they need to get to the fundamental issues that people care about. How do we make sure we take care of our veterans? How do we secure our border? How do we make sure we get fair trade deals? However, our constitution is important. Would you say that what happened was okay by the constitution? Uh, no, it was not OK.
Speaker 1: 01:34 Uh, I think that the abuse of power by the Democrats is terrible. I think that the Democrats should be stripped of their majority in the house. Representatives. Impeachment is a serious issue. Uh, it should be only used in the most extreme and, uh, agregious, uh, transgressions and the Democrats have shown that they are willing to trample over our constitution to try to invalidate the results of the 2016 election. Now your most high profile Republican opponent is Darryl ICER, who served as the Congressman for the 49th district in North San Diego County for 18 years. Is that a pretty formidable level of experience for you to be running against? Look, I don't think having experience in the Washington swamp is actually a good or positive attribute. Darrell ice, uh, spent, uh, 20 years, uh, in, in, uh, Washington. He wants to crawl his way back in. Um, he has a record, um, of, of grand standing on cable news, but not really getting things done.
Speaker 1: 02:32 He quit on the president. He quit on his constituents. He betrayed president Trump by being the only Republican to call for a special prosecutor to investigate the president and his family on the, the, the, the phony Russia collusion alligator, uh, allegations. Uh, and he really has shown that he's not a fighter. I think the thing that's remarkable about the voters in the 50th district is they feel like they're forgotten. They feel like their voice is not heard, certainly in California or in Washington. They want a fighter who's going to up and really address the issues that they care about that have a meaningful impact on their daily lives. Uh, I believe that you don't live in the district does that, right. I used to live in Hunter's district. Um, and right now we're going through redistricting. Uh, that process, uh, will be completed in a matter of, you know, 14, 15 months.
Speaker 1: 03:17 Uh, and I, you know, the Democrats, I'm their worst nightmare to be in elected office cause they know just like I did on the city council just like I did on the radio, that I will stand up and lead the fight against their extreme ideas. And so I wouldn't put it past them if I moved tomorrow to redraw the lines exactly around my, my house. So I'm waiting for the lines to be finalized for the next decade so that, uh, we can make that decision. But I will tell you I will reside in the 50th district. It's important that I reside in the district that I represent. So now the San Diego Republican party did not endorse you. And in this time of opening endorse anyone, it's a two thirds super majority vote. I did get the most votes of all the candidates. Um, but it is a, it's a hard, it's a high bar to meet and it's designed to protect the integrity of the process and the Republican party, uh, from internal division.
Speaker 1: 04:11 So the only time we do endorsements is when we have a super majority, two thirds that the 49 elected central committee members can agree on. Um, we've seen some ads that Daryl Leisa has mounted against you that referred you sexual orientation, which some people have described as being gay baiting kind of ads. What's your reaction to those and what do you know it says about your opponent? The thing I find most offensive about Daryl ISIS ads, uh, the fact that he lies about my record, uh, on, on virtually everything he, um, is cutting and pasting, um, uh, comments completely out of context. Um, and here's, here's why he's lying. He has his own terrible record of opposing the border wall of betraying president Trump of supporting amnesty for 11 million illegal immigrants. So like a typical career swamp politician, he uses lies to deflect attention from his own terrible record.
Speaker 1: 05:03 Uh, and we're, we're standing up, we're, we're, we're communicating why I'm running. Uh, I'm not running for any other reason, but you'd be a fighter and to give forgotten Californians a voice. Darryl ISO wants to make this election about, uh, you know, uh, all sorts of other side issues that have no bearing and no relevance. Well, let's talk about some of the issues that really mattered to people such as health care and you have a plan to fix health care that you say, we'll make it cheaper and more accessible. Code freedom, care, freedom, care. You have Obamacare, which I believe is a disaster. But you also have Republicans that didn't have a plan. They ran for what, six years, eight years saying, Oh, repeal and replace, repeal and replace. They didn't bother to come up with a plan. They didn't tell anyone. They didn't have a plan.
Speaker 1: 05:44 I think they lost a lot of credibility when they got into Congress and did not have a plan. And so what I say is if I don't like someone else's idea, I'm not just going to say what's wrong with their idea or oppose it. I feel obliged to come up with a better plan, a better idea. That's where freedom care came about and it really talks about how we can cut the red tape, give consumers more choice, respect the relationship between doctors and their patients, and really embrace innovation in the, in how we deliver health care to consumers that have been the cost curve and save money. Speaking of the cost curve, doesn't it rely on people to be paying for their particular plan, which would allow people who can afford it a great plan and people who con would be left with a terrible plan?
Speaker 1: 06:28 No, it's a terrible plan. Only of government drives up the cost of, of, of providing medical care. Here's the funny thing about cutting red tape and bending the cost curve. Everybody finds that health care is more affordable and that's gotta be our singular focus is how do we reduce the cost of providing healthcare in this country? Here are the two, two stats I want to give you. When you take a look at the, uh, inflation in, uh, in our country since 1998, inflation at the cost of clothing, the cost of food, the cost of TV sets, the cost of cell phones, the cost of services have all actually gone down relative to inflation. What has skyrocketed up healthcare, 226% outstripping inflation. Can you pinpoint what it is about healthcare that has made the costs go up? [inaudible] without reducing the quality of the government? I can tell you right now, it doesn't take a rocket scientist.
Speaker 1: 07:22 There's too much government in healthcare. Talk to any doctor, talk to any nurse, talk to any healthcare provider. And they will tell you that their cost of actually providing a simple service, a simple procedure is astronomically higher than it needs to be because of government intrusion. Okay. How important is your stance on abortion rights in his campaign? You know, I am opposed to federal funding for abortion. Um, I've always said, uh, you know, in my libertarian way, if, if even if you have a freedom to do something, it doesn't mean that I'm going to, um, support my tax dollars going, uh, to something that I disagree with. I personally disagree with it and I really want to see us reduce the number of unplanned unwanted pregnancies in this country. And I think that's a great unifying focus. My position is no different than justice Brett Kavanaugh on the issue.
Speaker 1: 08:09 Um, but it is different, but it is [inaudible] but it is different than Daryl ISIS in that I oppose federal funding going to abortion providers. The Hyde amendment amendment is what it's called. Where's Daryl Eissa pledged to continue to fund abortions? And now he seems to try to be deceiving voters again. You know, the thing that people don't like about politicians the most, and there's a lot of things not to like about politicians is the fact that they say one thing and one audience and say another thing in another audience. What you see is what you get with me. Um, and if you disagree, fine, but at least you'll know it's coming from my gut. I spent five years on radio, I F I spent, you know, four years prior to that on the San Diego city council and uh, might've ruffled feathers, but people always knew that they would get a genuine direct answer.
Speaker 1: 08:55 The question, how about climate change? Do you believe it's a problem? And do you think that the federal government should be doing more to reduce carbon emissions? And the climate has been changing since the beginning of the planet. Okay. That's first and foremost. No one's denying that there is quote climate change. No one denies that humans have an impact on their environment. It's called an ecosystem. Everything planting a flower has an impact on the environment. But I don't believe that we should sacrifice our, our, our living standards. I don't believe that we should bankrupt families because of some notion that we can have climate control and, and this is the term I want to use on this debate. Democrats are trying to suggest that we can control the climate. That's what they're offering you. They're saying, give us your money, give us your freedom. Give us mandates and regulation on how we live our lives.
Speaker 1: 09:45 Increased your cost of living. Go without certain necessities, go without certain conveniences. And in exchange we promise we'll control the climate. So you're saying [inaudible] what an absurd on its face and absurd claim to be making. And nobody in the media wants to challenge them on the cost of their proposals or the efficacy of their proposals or any of the, the, the, the, the, the, the uh, uh, science behind. How confident are you that if we make these changes that anything will will be changed? Because what they're saying is it in the United States, in San Diego, we ought to sacrifice our quality of life, have our cost of living go, go higher and higher, but where's all the carbon emission problem stemming from China in India, but they don't have to make those sacrifices or changes. We could eliminate all the carbon emissions tomorrow from the United States of America, which is never going to happen.
Speaker 1: 10:34 But let's pretend that we got rid of all China and India will outstrip that elimination within four years. And so we have to have something that actually works. I am interested in your argument that you were saying that the government is trying to control the planet and I wonder if you feel like in fact what a government, what people do does not actually have an effect on the climate. Now I just stipulated that human beings, potted plants, trees, animals were part of an ecosystem. So to say that humans don't have an impact on the environment is just not, you know, scientifically valid. However, to say that somehow I know for sure that if we don't do X, Y,Z , the world's going to end in 12 years. And that if you give me all your freedom, all your money, sacrifice the economy, that somehow I'll be able to fix it or change it in 12 years.
Speaker 1: 11:19 That's nonsense. Here's what I want to do. I want to focus on proven evidence-based environmental protection and improvements. Let's clean up the sewage water in, in the Tijuana river, uh, Valley that's contaminating our beaches and bays 131 days out of the year. That's last year. How about we deal with the issue of human feces on our sidewalks from homeless individuals? Let's clean up that mess and the rest of the public health. Why don't we go and clean up our beaches, our bays, our canyons, and our sidewalks and our, our highways by requiring that welfare recipients actually go and do public work, uh, tours where they're cleaning up the trash, uh, for providing them with the financial support. We should at least get some sort of return on investment from that. So if you want a cleaner environment, if you want better air and water, there are more provable investments that we can make.
Speaker 1: 12:08 And that's where I'm focused. So do you think the federal government should be doing more to restrict carbon emissions? I think we all need to do more to find how we can be more sustainable while also having a prosperous economy. So what I'm talking about is sustainable economic prosperity. Uh, I want to look at policies that not only, um, uh, help advance prosperity but also are wise. They're, they're, they're resource wise and I don't think that you get there by government mandates and regulations. I think you get there by encouraging innovation and change in the economy. Time and time again, human entrepreneurship and innovation solves problems, particularly environmental problems faster than any government rule book or regulation. I want to ask you about the Boda because your district stretches down to the border. So border security is one of your priorities. Do you have any new ideas on how to improve that?
Speaker 1: 12:57 Well, my, my priority on the border isn't just because of proximity. We need to secure our border because without border security we have a national security threat. We have a immense public cost for illegal immigration. There are, there's drug trafficking going on, human trafficking. And so border security encompasses so many issues of concern. Um, I have a five point plan called the border border security initiative. It's supported by Roger Hedgecock who helped found the hold their feet to the fire tour, uh, with the Federation for American immigration reform. And he's a local talk, a former talk show host, right? A mentor of mine actually I had greatly respect him. Uh, Christopher Harris, the former secretary of the local border patrol council of San Diego agents. Um, Agnes Gibbon. He an angel mom whose son was killed violently by an illegal immigrant criminal in this country given sanctuary. And so the five point plan is number one, build a wall and properly staff it.
Speaker 1: 13:53 Cause there are thousands of positions in the border patrol. They're not filled. A number two, after we build the wall and, and, and provide an infrastructure and staffing to secure it, we need to close the loopholes, the legal loopholes in our immigration laws, in our asylum laws that are being abused by the coyotes and abused by illegal immigrants. Third, let's actually take on big business. The reason why we don't have border security. The Republicans get campaign cash from big business. Big business likes lots of illegal immigration because they get cheap labor. I want to take the profit out of illegal immigration by cracking down on businesses that are engaged in predatory employment. We need to have E-Verify, not voluntary, but mandatory with not only civil fines, but criminal penalties for repeat offenders. Fourth, we need to get rid of the welfare that we've granted illegal immigrants.
Speaker 1: 14:39 If you come to this country, you have to have a job, you have to keep a job and you cannot take public welfare for at least five years of a period of time. We have to get rid of the sanctuary state law that that allows for, to be rereleased into our communities. And finally, the fifth reform is let's make legal immigration, uh, streamlined and merit based. And that's where the president's raise act. Our AI S E is, I think the best approach going forward, which is we go to a merit based, quantifiable review of people seeking, uh, to, to migrate, to immigrate into the United States. We want to be a welcoming country. And I don't think Republicans say that enough, is that we're proud of the fact that we are a nation of immigrants. How lucky are we that the best and the brightest want to come here?
Speaker 1: 15:27 But if they want to come here, they have to do so legally and they have to bide by the rules and they actually have to demonstrate that they're willing to work hard and be value added. Uh, uh, participants if elected, would you vote for move federal gun regulations? No, I don't see a, a, an infringement on the second amendment as the way of making people safer. That's why I have a four point initiative called let's roll. You may remember flight 93 Todd Beamer, Todd Beamer during nine 11 was on flight 93 and originally they thought, well, let's just cower. Let's just cooperate with the terrorists that are hijacking us. Like they'll probably land the plane and stipulate their demands. Let's cower. Let's not fight back. Well, by the time that they reached their family and friends on the ground to tell them about the hijacking, we all knew on the ground what was going on, that they were using the airplanes as weapons.
Speaker 1: 16:20 And what Todd was told by a family member is they're not taking you hostage. They're taking that plane and they're going to Ram it into some sort of building. So Todd Beamer said, let's roll, let's roll, let's choose uncertain death versus certain death. Let's choose to save others by fighting back. Let's not cower and run and hide. And so I believe we need more of the second amendment, not less of the second amendment. If we want to safeguard people. Alison, how many police shootings, mass shootings are, they're targeting police stations. Probably can't think of any, right? Because nutcases dingbats wing bats and extremists, evil doers don't attack targets that will fight back. They attack targets that are defenseless where they can wreak as much havoc and carnage as possible. And so my let's roll initiative is all about, um, letting people know about their second amendment rights training, uh, and educating in self defense, uh, providing, um, a national concealed carry program that, uh, is a, uh, based on standards, um, allowing for, uh, better data for background checks and celebrating the heroes of, uh, of, of mass shootings that step forward and save the lives of others.
Speaker 1: 17:36 Well, Carl, thank you very much for coming in. Thanks so much. That was Republican candidate for the 50th district. Kyle de Mio.
Speaker 1: 00:00 You see them below the signature line on emails, more and more these days. A person's preferred pronouns. There are familiar ones. She, her, hers, he, him, his, but more and more you're seeing they them theirs. English has a pronoun problem and it turns out that problem has been around for a very long time. And his new book, what's your pronoun beyond he and she, linguistic scholar Dennis bear and takes on the history of the search for that elusive non-gender specific pronoun. He joins us now. Dennis, welcome. Hi, great to be here. I talked about it a little in the introduction, but to listeners who aren't familiar with the pronoun issue, how would you describe it?
Speaker 2: 00:42 Well, uh, for a few hundred years now, commentators have been noticing an absence, a missing word, a lack of a gender neutral, and now a nonbinary pronoun for the third person singular. So we have he, she and itch, but no way to really indicate someone whose gender is unknown, whose, uh, gender needs to be, uh, hidden for some reason to protect their identity or whose gender doesn't fit the traditional, uh, uh, binary of masculine and feminine. So gender nonconforming, uh, transgender, uh, individuals, non binary individuals. So those, there's been, uh, this gap that people have noticed and attempts to deal with it by either using an existing word like the pronoun they, which is typically been plural, but has been used quite frequently over the last, uh, hundreds and hundreds of years, uh, as a singular as well. Or by coining a word, coining a new word, or by borrowing a word from another language.
Speaker 1: 02:02 And for those of us who've noticed pronouns popping up in emails and other places, you know, we might think this is a new phenomenon, but it's actually hundreds of years old, right,
Speaker 2: 02:12 exactly, exactly. Uh, people started talking about it in the 17, 80, 17, nineties. There's a missing word. We need this word. Let's coin a word, let's borrow a word. But people have been using singular, they since the 14th century for, uh, sentences like, uh, everybody forgets their passwords. Everybody is singular, there is plural.
Speaker 1: 02:37 And the issue of, of pronouns figured prominently in one tumultuous time in American history. Tell us about how the issue played out during the struggle for women's rights in the 19th century.
Speaker 2: 02:50 Okay, so in the 19th century, uh, both England and the U S passed laws, which said whenever a masculine word like he or man, uh, occurs in a statute that is meant to include women as well. So he means she a man means both men and women. And so suffragists in the 19th century seized on this generic he and said, well, look, if he is generic in the criminal code, uh, where the, the criminal is referred to as he, but women are punished for the same crime as men, then he should be generic in the voting laws as well. So if the voting laws refer to the voter as he, that should include women, that should mean women can vote. Unfortunately, legislators and judges who were pretty much universally men at the time said, nah, that's, that's not, that's not gonna work.
Speaker 1: 03:58 Mmm. And so what methodology have people used over the years to come up with new pronouns?
Speaker 2: 04:04 Well, there, there have been a number of things. Uh, one of the earliest ones in the 1780s was somebody noticed well in dialect, uh, speech in different parts of England. There's a sort of generic Ooh, or, or, huh. Or something like that that, that's used, uh, for men, for women, even for animals. Uh, let's use that. In all the early 19th century people started making upwards of, so in 1841, a doctor who apparently had time on his hands wrote an English grammar and decided that E the letter E capital E should be the gender neutral pronoun. He, uh, the possessive with B E S S and M four, a M for, for the object form E S M. a. Nobody, nobody paid any attention to his suggestion, but that's the earliest one I found of a coined pronoun.
Speaker 1: 05:08 You know, some people you know, might be uncomfortable with the whole issue of gender fluidity and how that's figuring into the pronoun conversation these days. Um, some might see it as political correctness run a muck. What would you say to them?
Speaker 2: 05:23 There are, uh, people who, who actually do say that it's political correctness, run a muck. It's a violation of my first amendment rights to say whatever I want and you can't force me to say your pronoun. Uh, I'd say, well, they're entitled to that opinion and nobody's really forcing anything. What we're really trying to do is get people to respect one another and to include one another in the conversation, whether it's spoken or written. And it's, you know, a politeness issue. It's a civility issue. It's, it's a way of saying, you know, I'm listening to you by, by using those pronouns.
Speaker 1: 06:08 And even though, as you say, the pronoun issue has been around for hundreds of years, you know, it seems there's renewed energy behind the search for that perfect pronoun. How hopeful are you that English speaking society may finally settle on a new pronoun anytime soon?
Speaker 2: 06:25 Well, uh, I don't think we're going to settle on a new pronoun. I don't think there's a one size fits all solution. And I think what we're going to do is continue to have multiple ways of dealing with the pronoun issue we always have. And I don't see why we can't glue with, uh, you know, several different options. The, he and she are not going away singular. They is not going away. And there's enough people using coined pronouns that they're not going to go away anytime soon. And even though there's not one specific coined pronoun that everybody's rallying behind, and enough people are using them to suggest they feel in need to have a coined pronoun. So we have those multiple solutions and I predict that in certainly in the short term, certainly in the short term, multiple solutions are going to continue.
Speaker 1: 07:21 I've been speaking with Dennis Baron, author of the new book. What's your pronoun beyond he and she, the book is out now. Dennis, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you Jade.
Speaker 3: 07:35 [inaudible].
Speaker 1: 00:00 Diversionary theater, sought out playwrights, Sylvan Oswald, and just hosted the world premiere of his new play, a kind of weather this past weekend. KPBS arts reporter Beth Huck Amando speaks with the playwright about the play and its Genesis a kind of weather is opening here at diversionary theater. So tell us what this plays about. It's a play about a trans guy who's a writer living in Brooklyn and one day his father shows up on his doorstep unannounced and asks to move in and he's sort of in the middle of living his life and he is really not prepared for that. Does having a parent around kind of cramp his style? Yes, absolutely. You know what's weird in this, in this dramatic situation is that the father, we don't quite know what's going on with him. Like he's, he's out of sorts. He's, he's just seems to be kind of in a cloud like in, in a place in life that even he can't name.
Speaker 1: 00:59 And so it becomes a struggle between father and son to try to figure out what's going on with my dad and why is he here and what am I supposed to do about it. And I saw that the play was inspired in part by a found object, a date book. How did that play a role in kind of sparking this play? I was in New York, there is a writers organization called new Dramatists and I'm an alumni of that organization. And one day we all got together and created writing exercises for each other, just as like a kind of just a fun bootcamp kind of a day. And I showed up to a room and I was the only person who'd like, we were all gonna rotate rooms and in each room there was going to be an exercise. And I showed up at this one room and I was the only one there.
Speaker 1: 01:46 And there were these envelopes on the table and there was sort of like, you know, taken envelope. It was like, not ominous but like kind of mysterious. And, um, so I started to take an envelope and, and you open it up and there was an object inside and then there was going to be a prompt of a writing exercise to do. And I opened it up and there was this date book from 1993 and it wasn't like there was nobody's name in it. It was just like, but it was clearly somebody because it was completely filled out. Like somebody lived through that year and this was their record of it. And I just became totally fascinated by it because there was some really intriguing just notes. Like at one point, the person who owned it wrote down, like saw the Heidi Chronicles, you know, and I'm just like, Oh my God, that's such a picture of a time and a person.
Speaker 1: 02:36 Right? It tells you a lot about who that was. Right? A theater going person and in, um, New York city. And there was also this one section where it was this description of a vacation that she took. I'm staying, I think it's a woman. And it was like this vacation that had gone horribly wrong. And there were all these details about like the candy cigarette was broken. Um, there was a buffet but they, they wouldn't let me go to it. You know, they, I ordered the New York times but the, you know, never showed up or you know, um, what does it, I needed to take a nap. But the cleaning service was in there. I mean, which is also a certain kind of person, right? There's a certain like class portrait you get there. But just that I was managed to stumble upon this object that contain such a quirky slice of life that was really fun.
Speaker 1: 03:30 And I always like to find something to work with that's outside of myself in addition to whatever it is that I bring to the, to the piece I'm writing. So it was really fun way to kind of work outside in and try to imagine who that person might've been. And this is a play that was workshopped. And how does that kind of affect the evolution of a play and help it progress? So it means that I sit down at a table with a director and actors who are cast in all the roles and we read through the play and we ask questions about it and try to discuss like, what is it about, what are the themes, what questions do people have? And it's, I think of it as like getting a deep tissue massage in your brain and for a writer anyway because you really, you have all these people who are getting inside your head literally like getting inside your work and walking around inside it and then asking you questions.
Speaker 1: 04:28 Like, you know, it's a little dim over here. I can't this corner. Have you ever had you address this little dark corner? And you're like, Oh no. And so it really, um, they sort of, they shed light on, on things you may have missed or may not have noticed. And I find it to be incredibly helpful. So what it does is it allows you to get one step closer to finishing the text. And this point he deals with a gender transitioning. So what role does that play in a, in the story? And for the character, it actually doesn't play a role at all. And that's exactly the point. I think that trans awareness is still so new in our society, even though it's greatly increased, you know, since, um, in the last five years, we still sort of are only aware of a certain set of narratives and a lot of those narratives are coming out stories.
Speaker 1: 05:21 Um, and I am trans and I feel like it's time to move on from that. You know, you think about the history of say, gay theater, right? And you can almost see different periods of like where society was and like what information we needed to receive from place. Right? And you think about the coming out plays, that was a phase, right? And then you think about, we get all the way to angels in American, we're like exploding history and that's really significant, right? So I want to move trans ness depictions of transness in playwriting forward by focusing on a chapter in a trans person's life that has nothing to do with his transition. And we were just on the set, which smelled of freshly cut wood. But, um, talk a little bit about where this is set and, and what you hope the set design kind of brings out in the play.
Speaker 1: 06:10 The play is set in Flatbush, Brooklyn, and it's sort of, for me reflecting a period of my life. It's sort of set at the kind of moment in your life when the character of the main character kid says, I'm living in a time I never thought would exist. Meaning the picture he had of what his life would be is not what's happening. And he's kind of at sea in the same way that his dad is. But it just does, it's not so obvious. So you have these two people meeting each other or re meeting each other at a moment when the ground beneath them is not so solid. The play has an epigraph from, it's this one poet talking about this other writer's work. And the quote is sex is a kind of weather and that's for the title comes from. It's about the work of the writer, Kathy Acker.
Speaker 1: 06:58 So it's talking a lot about like what is, what is the atmosphere of our emotional lives? What, um, you know, there's the phrase of like seasons of life, right? You move through different seasons and I, you could think of them as different weather systems. And the set we have by each Henley is really elegant and has to do this job of representing multiple places at once. There's something that happens in the play where it's playing kind of fast and loose with time. It's really driven by memory in a sense. And so we have a lot of super imposed overlapping settings. So there's Jamaica, um, there's Brooklyn, there's Jamaica, Queens, there's all of these moments and times that are sort of flashing before the character's eyes. And so the set had to kind of find a way to create space for all of those things to happen. All right. Well, I want to thank you very much for talking about a kind of weather. Thank you so much.
Speaker 2: 07:57 Yeah.
Speaker 1: 07:58 That was about DACA. Mando speaking with playwright Sylvan Oswald, a kind of weather continues through March 8th at the diversionary theater.
The Navy and SANDAG have been working to redevelop NAVWAR headquarters into a transit hub. The public has a chance to weigh in at Liberty Station this Thursday. Plus, meet radio talk show host Carl DeMaio, who is running for the 50th Congressional District. Also, there five candidates vying for the two seats on the San Diego Unified school board. And, the history of the search for gender-neutral pronouns. Finally, Diversionary Theatre this weekend debuts the world premiere of Sylvan Oswald’s "A Kind of Weather."