Local and statewide updates from California's primary election
S1: A look at where California stands after yesterday's election.
S2: You know , it's going to be a long road between here in November. There are so many pressing issues.
S1: I'm Jade Heineman with Harrison Patino in for Maureen. This is KPBS Midday Edition. The results are rolling in from local races so far.
S3: Of the nearly 2 million registered voters in the county , just over 416,000 ballots have been cast. And while they are projecting 250,000 outstanding ballots , that's still equates to roughly a 34% voter turnout.
S1: And we'll talk about the latest on COVID 19 sub variants with Dr. Eric Topol. Plus , we'll tell you about the new premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse. That's on KPBS Midday Edition. California held its primary election yesterday. And while vote tallies are still being calculated across the state , we already have a much clearer picture of what many state races will look like for November's general election. Here to tell us more about statewide election results is Marissa Largo's , correspondent with KQED , California Politics and Government Desk. Marisa , welcome.
S2: Thanks for having me.
S1: All right. Now , the most high profile office on the ballot yesterday was not necessarily the most suspenseful. As expected , Governor Newsom easily won this primary. The real question was who he would face in the fall.
S2: He will be facing State Senator Brian Daly. He represents a northern part of the state and is , you know , a pretty sort of typical California Republican , I would say not somebody with a huge amount of name I.D. And I think it's important to note Newsome really came out of last year's recall in a very strong position. He handily beat that attempt. And so while , you know , I think Dolley has taken up the Republican mantle , we don't expect this to be a very competitive race in the fall. Hmm.
S1: Hmm. And California Attorney General Rob Bonta fared well in his first electoral test of the office , having been appointed by Governor Newsom last year.
S2: That's right. He got a so far over almost 55% of the vote , which is pretty good , considering this is a man who's never run statewide and quite frankly , didn't have a lot of name I.D. coming into this. But he is going to be facing a GOP opponent. And , you know , I think that Bonta probably feels pretty good coming out of this primary because there was some sense that he might not have reached that 50% threshold.
S1: And you're right that he may be even more pleased this morning when looking at who he'll likely face in November or more accurately , who he will not face. What's the story there.
S2: As in the governor's race ? There was a no party preference challenger in this attorney general race , Ann-Marie Schubert. She's the district attorney in Sacramento County. And while she really failed to get traction here , I think there was some concern among Democrats that if she had made it through this primary , she could have posed a pretty formidable challenge to Bonta. You know , no Republican has won statewide since 2006 and Democrats like it that way , obviously. And I think they see somebody with an R next to their name , like the two top Republicans who are still competing for the number two spot. Nathan Hochman and Eric Earley , that they'll just be easier to beat. I mean , this is a state where Democrats outnumber Republican voters almost 2 to 1.
S2: I mean , he's not in the strongest position. He got about 30% , 7% of the vote so far. But clearly , again , party incumbency and endorsements helped him. It's looking like unclear whether he will face his Democratic challenger. And then I also think the fact that Lani Chen , Republican , came in on top in the controllers race means that that will be an interesting runoff against Democrat Melissa Cohen. And it seems like that might be one office that Republicans have a hope at winning statewide.
S1: Another story coming out of yesterday was the recall of san francisco d.a. Chase aberdeen. Voters there pretty decisively decided to make a change away from the progressive D.A..
S2: I've been covering criminal justice reform in the state for the last decade. And I do think that Jason Boudin in some ways was a unique candidate , but he was certainly impacted by some of the bigger conversations around crime and public safety and , quite frankly , homelessness. I don't know that this is an entire rebuke of progressive prosecutors as it's being painted by some in the national media. We've seen real mixed results in other DA races around the state , including a big win in another Bay Area county for a prosecutor who has gone after law enforcement. And then , you know , down near or in your neck of the woods in Orange County , incumbent , more conservative D.A. Todd Spitzer , it looks like he is going to win outright. So I think it's a real mixed bag. And maybe back to that old adage that all politics are local. Hmm.
S1: You know , San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria was not on yesterday's ballot speaking of local , but the mayoral race in Los Angeles garnered a lot of attention.
S2: And now what we're seeing is a match up between us Congresswoman Karen Bass. She is a former assembly speaker , former head of the Congressional Black Caucus and a pretty , I think , tied in with the establishment Democrats. She is going to be facing Rick Caruso , billionaire developer who spent $40 million of his own money in the last few months introducing himself to voters. I expect this is going to be a really rough and tumble race and one that , you know , kind of Caruso's going to try to really push back on the idea that Democratic establishment candidates should keep their power when there are so many challenges facing the state.
S1: Now , California is a heavily Democratic state , and it could play a substantial role in whether or not Democrats are able to keep their majority in the House next year.
S2: A couple of them are in Orange County , those sort of one as expected , despite some concerns and one of those by the Republican National Committee that an insurgent Republican could overtake incumbent young Kim. We're going to see a rematch up in northern Los Angeles County between Mike Garcia , incumbent Republican , and Kristi Smith. This is the third time they have faced each other. And of course , David Valadao in the Central Valley will be facing Assemblymember Rudy Salis. That is one of those weird districts where Democrats have the advantage. But Valadao , a Republican , has repeatedly been able to pull it off. And I think Rudy Salis is going to be giving him a strong challenge there.
S2: But in general , you know , it's going to be a long road between here in November. There are so many pressing issues inflation , gas prices , gun control , that Supreme Court decision on abortion that I'm just not ready to predict yet that all of the issues that played in this low turnout election are going to be top of mind for voters. But certainly they could be.
S1: I've been speaking with Marisa Lagos from KQED , California Politics and Government Desk. Marisa , thank you for joining us after what I'm sure was a late night for you.
S2: My pleasure. Anytime.
S4: We just heard about some of the statewide results in yesterday's primary election. And now we want to focus on some of the key races here in San Diego County. These include the race for the office of San Diego County sheriff , as well as the seat for California Assembly District 80. And joining me now to break down those races for us is KPBS speaker City Heights reporter Jacob Bear. Jacob , welcome back to the program.
S3: Thanks for having me on. Okay.
S4: Okay. So first , let's talk about voter turnout.
S3: When you consider there was a 60% voter turnout in the recall election just last fall , San Diego County Registrar of Voters Cynthia Paz said that between the presidential years and the gubernatorial years , it's the gubernatorial primary that has by far the lowest turnout so far. Of the nearly 2 million registered voters in the county , just over 416,000 ballots have been cast. And while they are projecting 250,000 outstanding ballots , that's still equates to roughly a 34% voter turnout.
S4: All right. Well , let's get into the actual races now for those who don't know.
S3: Gonzalez stepped down earlier this year , and she plans to head up the California Labor Federation starting this summer. What that meant is that a special election needed to be held to fill her seat in addition to the standard primary election for the role which happened yesterday.
S3: It's really been a two horse race between Democrats Georgette Gomez and David Alvarez so far. Alvarez won the special election , meaning that he will fill the role through November when the general election will then happen. But oddly enough , Gomez is currently leading the vote for the June primary , where there are three other candidates with Alvarez in a close second. There will likely be him and Gomez going at it head to head in this November's general election to fill the seat for the next two years. But if yesterday's election forecast the future , it seems that Alvarez has the edge at the moment. When I spoke to Southwestern College political science professor Phil Sines , he said Alvarez led in the two person special election. It might be due to the Republican and Independent voters giving him a boost.
S4: And results indicate that Alvarez has a significant lead in this special election runoff.
S3: This could lead to an advantageous situation if he's able to capitalize on these next couple of months and put himself out there and try and , you know , get some positive publicity behind his name because this is kind of representative of the two horse race that is going to repeat itself again in November and currently with the advantage. It seems that Alvarez is set up in a good position for himself.
S4: Now , this race was on the ballot twice. Can you remind us why that is ? Sure.
S3: So voting happened twice for those who lived in both the old 2011 and the new 2021 district boundaries. If you lived in just the old boundaries , you could vote only for the special election and you could just vote for the primary if you only lived within the newest 2021 boundaries which were redrawn late last year. It has to do with the timing of when former Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez stepped down. So it slightly complicated the race for the position.
S4: Now , switching gears. Let's get into the sheriff's race. San Diego hasn't had a new sheriff in more than a decade. Sheriff Bill Gore retired earlier this year and the county board of Supervisors appointed Anthony Ray as interim sheriff , but he was not allowed to run for sheriff.
S3: And the early returns are seven candidates running for the seat with the two top vote getters from the June 7th election advancing to the November runoff. Right now , Kelly Martinez is the clear leader of the pack with roughly 38% of the vote. And it looks like John Hammerlock narrowly edged out Dave Myers for the second spot on the November ballot. He's currently at roughly 20% to Myers , 18. The other four candidates trail by a significant margin , with none of them currently polling over 8% at the moment.
S3: Meanwhile , John Hamelin is an assistant attorney in San Diego. He's also a former Marine and San Diego police officer. He also mentions how he spent time as the chief criminal prosecutor for the city of San Diego. So those two are going to be most likely the candidates on the November ballot.
S4: Now , the sheriff's office is technically nonpartisan. However , both candidates are registered as separate political parties.
S3: So Hamelin was an independent voter , but in 2020. He actually changed his status to the Republican Party and has their backing. And despite the county's majority of Democrat voters , he thinks he can still be elected. Meanwhile , when looking at Martinez , she actually was a Republican , but she changed her party to Democrat in November 2020. And now she has the backing of well-known Democrats , including San Diego Mayor Tom Gloria. So when you look at this , it can really be that voters can sometimes use their own parties to inform decisions , even for nonpartisan offices. So what might end up happening here is a blue versus red voter divide for the sheriff's office. When thinking about policing , there's another divide between Republican and Democrat ideologies. So that could be another thought process going through the minds of voters.
S4: All right. I've been speaking with KPBS Speak City Heights reporter Jacob Bear. Jacob , thanks for joining us.
S3: Thanks for having me on.
S1: A few more local races are shaping up for November as votes are tallied. KPBS investigative border reporter Gustavo Celis joins us with the latest on Chula Vista mayoral race and the San Diego City Council race for District two. Gustavo , welcome.
S3: Hello , Jane.
S1: So John McCann is the top vote getter in the Chula Vista mayoral race. This is a nonpartisan race , but he's a Republican.
S3: It is. And it isn't surprising. Like you said , Chula Vista is a big Democrat city and John McCain is a Republican. But John McCain is also a known elected official. Right. He's been in the council forever. He has a good , strong base and just that name recognition. I think he has him in a more camp and Aja probably had the highest name recognition. But John McCain has the name recognition with the added track record of being in office for a long time. I think also something that helped John McCain is the fact that there were five Democrats running against him. And it seems like they kind of cannibalized each others votes at some point.
S1: And the race for second place is still undecided. Tell us what's going on there.
S3: Yeah , it's a pretty exciting race so far with with the early results and only about 400 votes separated. Mark Camp and Aja with Joe Galvez right now our campaign Aja is second. Joe Garbus is on the outside looking in , but it's still early , early results. Like I said , only 400 points separate them. And as we know , the top two vote getters move on to a November general election. So that's one definitely to keep an eye on.
S1: And as you mentioned , a camp and Aja is currently in second place. You spoke to him last night. Here's what he had to say.
S3: Oh , it would be a dream come true to represent the city that I grew up in and have so much , so much that I owe this great city.
S3: He feels confident. He said he had a strong ground game and they did a lot of like on the ground outreach prior to the election , like just a couple of days leading up to it. I mean , he's been campaigning for a long time , right ? He's , you know , famously or infamously ran for Congress in the 50th for a couple of years. He has a lot more money than John McCain or Jill Galvis , I think is more of a professional campaigner than you get in some of these local races sometimes. So. So he he likes his chances , but also he kind of has a lot riding on this just politically , right. Try to run for Congress twice , didn't get in and is now kind of running for mayor. Chula Vista.
S3: Right. If you look at her endorsement lists , Toni Atkins , Lorena Gonzalez , Nora Vargas , Todd Gloria , the current mayor of Chula Vista , Mary Salazar , the mayor of National City. Other countries are still asleep. So let's just goes on and on. Vivian Moreno , Georgette Gomez , even the Democratic Party. So like on paper , if you just look at those endorsements , you would think she would have a good shot at this. But clearly , with , you know , just 11% of the vote so far , fourth place I , I don't know if maybe they just put their names behind her and not necessarily their money or maybe just in Chula Vista , the Democratic endorsements don't really mean as much.
S1: Jill Galvez , who is in third place , is currently the District two city councilmember in Chula Vista. In choosing to run for mayor , she chose not to run for re-election in that district.
S3: They're both first time. Well , Jose is a first time candidate. Steve Steinberg actually ran for that same seat four years ago and lost to Jill Galvis. So it's kind of an interesting situation in a couple of ways , right. One , there isn't an incumbent in Chula Vista District two city council , someone who's never been in office before in the city , which is kind of exciting. But also , just from Jill Goebbels's perspective , I mean , she had the power of the incumbency. She probably would have had an easier time running for reelection in District two , but chose to run for mayor , which I think kind of tells you a little bit something about her ambition and , you know , high risk , high reward. I think she's on the fence right now. And to me , it's interesting to wonder what if. Right. What if she had just stayed on the council and ran again instead of running for mayor ? It also probably would have changed the mayoral election a little bit , taking Jill Galvis out of it , who's who potentially took votes away from Amar or Senator Encarnacion.
S1: And coming back to the mayor's race in November , the field will be a little different. Chula Vista voters will have one Democrat and one Republican on the ballot for mayor.
S3: Right. The the number of registered Democrats and registered Republicans would be more of a factor. You wouldn't have multiple Democrat candidates fighting each other for the same type of votes. I think if a campaign budget does stay at number two , he would have a lot more money than John McCain. So I would give him a slight lead. But but again , in these local elections that are kind of tough to call.
S1: Now turning our attention to the San Diego City Council race for District two. This is a seat currently held by Democrat Jim Campbell.
S3: Kind of say that people are generally happy with with John Campbell , just 30% of the votes in a six person race. She is leading by more than five percentage points right now. And I think coming at the heels of the recall efforts , which really went nowhere , they didn't even gather enough signatures to make it. But I think with that as a backdrop , John Campbell is feeling pretty positive about it. Right. I felt he got a chance to talk to her yesterday. And we have a little clip of her saying how she saw this victory , this early victory. Well , I think it's.
S5: Clear from their strong first place finish that they want a council member who builds consensus.
S2: Who can work with everyone and move San Diego forward.
S1: And Campbell will face Linda Lucas in November.
S3: Linda was the lone Republican in this primary and it seemed to work for her. Right. With with Lori Saldana and Joel. They kind of taking both votes from each other. It's going to be an interesting general election with with Glen Campbell , the Democrat , Linda Lucas , the Republican. Linda lives in Sunset Cliffs. So she's kind of the coastal Republican. Jen lives in Bay Hole , so she is slightly more inland Democrat. But same things kind of pan out right in a one on one race. That dynamics totally changed. And I think they would favor John Campbell just based on. The amount of registered Democrats write in District two , there are 41,000 registered Democrats versus only 24 registered Republicans. So I think like in the Chula Vista mayoral race , this San Diego City Council District two with a one on one , that dynamics totally changed.
S1: All right. These are all races we'll be keeping our eyes on. I've been speaking with KPBS investigative border reporter Gustavo Solis. Gustavo , thank you. Okay.
S3: Okay. Thank you.
S4: You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Harrison Bertino , in for Maureen CAVANAUGH with George Heineman. Coronavirus cases in San Diego County tripled over the past month , led by new variants that have again made the virus more transmissible. But news of rising COVID cases does not seem to be having as much of an impact on how San Diegans are approaching health and safety guidelines. The question for health officials now is to what extent these relaxed attitudes towards the virus could lead to problems for a highly anticipated summer season. Joining me once again with a COVID update is our frequent guest , Dr. Eric Topol , director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Hoya. And Dr. Topol , welcome back to Midday Edition.
S3: Thanks , Harrison. Great to be with you.
S3: We're in the midst of this Countrywide AMR and some variant where the country's dominant variant is so-called B , a two , one , two , one. And we're transitioning to other variants called a Foreign VI. So right now , it's it's dynamic. Things are going to go up again. They are going up , as you mentioned at the outset. But the whole country has to brace for yet another one of these American hyper transmissible , you know , very worrisome variants , because they keep progressively challenging our immune response , even for people , you know , have had multiple vaccine shots.
S4: Well , as you mentioned , new variants have been leading the recent wave of cases , and one in particular seems to have caught your attention.
S3: It has a specific mutation in it. It's called L four or five two and is shared with the Delta variant , which you may remember , of course , was associated with a lot more virulence or disease causing when it replaced alpha , you know , back in the beginning of 2021. So this combines that feature with America , which is , you know , the hyper transmissible variant that started really here in December , January. It's not a good combination. So basically what we're seeing is so many breakthrough infections , our immunity to our crown , which so many people had in the early part of this year , doesn't hold up against these other variants of our. So basically , you know , we've got problems with a lot of breakthrough infections. And when those occur in people who are older , particularly if they haven't been vaccinated for many months , it's trouble , potential trouble. And then , of course , there's a large proportion of people who are not at all vaccinated where there's a lot of trouble there , too.
S3: That's what the CDC recommends. And what's amazing about that , Harrison , is less than 5% of the country's over 50 population has had a booster. That's. And as you go up and age over 50 , you get over 60 and 70. The benefit of the booster just keeps getting higher. And we're talking about survival benefit. And it's really sad that we're not taking advantage because these are free , they are safe , and they provide an added protection against hospitalizations and deaths for people of advanced age.
S4: Yesterday , the Food and Drug Administration announced some major news about another coronavirus vaccine that could become available in the U.S..
S3: It's a protein based vaccine. It's more traditional and is good news because this was tested in large trials like the Moderna and Pfizer. A lot of people somehow have a bias against mRNA , which isn't really supported. But if they're holding out , this is a really good vaccine , proved to be highly effective and safe. The only reason it didn't come up until now is because the company had issues about manufacturing , which eventually got overridden. So we're in good shape because we now have another vaccine. Some people have been waiting for this. Some people will take it as a booster. But this is good.
S4: Well , also on the vaccine front , recently , the Biden administration said that vaccines for kids under five may become available as soon as June 21st.
S3: They're probably both going to be approved. They both appear to be safe and are inhibiting infections in children , which is good. You know , the uptake may be an issue because polls of parents suggest they're not interested. I think that's. A mistake. I think they can really help prevent any infections. You never know where some children can wind up having trouble with , no less transmitting it to others.
S4: Now , you've been warning a lot about the dangers of long COVID. Should we be thinking about long COVID more in terms of a new type of disability ? Exactly.
S3: Harrison That's my number one concern. That's why , you know , I don't want to get cold. I don't want anyone I know to get COVID because it's unpredictable. And some people even , you know , having had three or four shots can get long COVID. We know that now. The problem with long COVID , of course , is it can be quite disabling. We don't even understand the mechanism and appears to be diverse with some people having like an autoimmune or hyper immune response and others having more physiologic issues about just very rapid heart rate with minimal exertion , poor exercise , tolerance , shortness of breath. But these mosaic of symptoms can be so troubling. It's a big issue , and we're not giving it nearly enough attention and priority to come up with treatments. The only way we know to prevent it is to prevent the infections. While vaccines were preventing infections , really ? Well , that that kind of took a big hit when armed crime came along. And it's progressively becoming more tricky as you sub variants around we're trying to have move forward.
S4: San Diego County is currently in the medium community level , according to the CDC , but you've made some comments questioning the accuracy of the CDC's community level calculations.
S3: The community level versus the transmission. So , you know , you can take our case numbers that are very inadequate for what's the real deal. You know , we know it's at least 5 to 10 times more than our case numbers that are being reported by the county because most people are resorting to either at home tests that don't get reported or just not even bother testing when they have what are symptoms or they've been exposed. So this real lax in testing and the lack of CDC tracking compares very differently to the CDC map of the transmission , which is very high. And I think right now everybody knows somebody who's recently been hit with COVID in our region because it is a hyper infectious variant. And we're going to see more of that in the weeks ahead throughout July and possibly longer because of another one of these Comic-Con variants that's emerging.
S4: Well , switching gears here just slightly , in a recent article for your Groundtruth blog , you write about what you call the bright side of the coronavirus pandemic.
S3: But moreover , that lead to treatments not just for infectious diseases. Now , where you're going to see that with cancer , with heart disease , with autoimmune diseases , that that is to say , instead of revving up the immune system to to put it asleep so we can come up with vaccinations to prevent type one diabetes , lupus , rheumatoid arthritis. I mean , this is so exciting , you know , multiple sclerosis. So we've learned how to deliver a genetic message safely. And it's just a platform which is going to lead to dividends for decades to come. It's really fantastic.
S4: All right. Good to leave. On a brighter note , I've been speaking with Dr. Eric Topol , director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Hoya. And Dr. Topol , as always , thank you so much for speaking with us today.
S3: Thank you.
S1: The Salk Institute in La Hoya is raising money for a new building. It will be the second expansion of its campus since its founding in the early sixties. The original Salk Institute is an icon of modern architecture. KPBS science and technology reporter Thomas Fudge tells us how its design has stood up as a place to do research.
S6: In the late fifties. Jonas Salk , famous for creating a polio vaccine , wanted to create a research institute. A site was chosen in San Diego. An architect named Louis Kahn was chosen , and it was clear that Salk wanted a building that would be itself a work of art. One of the mandates that he gave to Kahn was , was he wanted a place that would be worthy of a visit by Pablo Picasso. Greg Lemke is a professor of neurobiology at the Salk Institute , who's also an avid follower of architecture trends. And what better place for him to work than a building whose lines and geometry and embrace of the Pacific Ocean have made it an architectural icon and a national historic landmark ? But the things that visitors don't see are what make it a great building for science. For instance , the skeleton of trusses that bear the building's weight. There's a series of trusses that span from these towers here to the exterior stairwells. And what that means , as a practical matter , is they're none of the interior walls of these laboratory spaces support any weight. And that means interior walls can be made out of drywall that can be broken down to reconfigure spaces or made from glass to let in the natural light and create an open atmosphere. Sorkin is architect , wanted to create a collaborative space where scientists would encounter each other and observe each other's work. Lemke showed us a door that leads to a corridor of connected labs. And so when you walk down this quarter , you're walking from one lab to the next lab to the next level. There are no walls between them. There are no barriers. The beauty of the building is that it is now about 60 years old and it has continued to keep pace with our changing science. Three Can't Tell. Hasani is a neurology professor at Salk who has seen the building changed to meet his research needs. Once he needed a new room to accommodate lab experiments with mice , he says he talked to the institute's facilities guys and they created a new room. All they had to do was fix some.
S3: Metal poles from the ceiling to the floor.
S5: And then stick pieces of.
S3: Drywall in. That was it.
S6: Of course. In the early sixties , Salk architects couldn't predict the future , and they couldn't prepare for every technological change. One of them says Charles Sony , was the use of wireless technology. The poured reinforced concrete the Salk buildings are made of is great if you want to block cell and Wi-Fi signals. The institute has had to install more than a thousand Wi-Fi access points to address the problem. And then there are the teak shutters and panels that Louis Kahn made as a key aspect of the building. The local environment , which includes a lot of very acidic eucalyptus trees , cause tremendous degradation. The spores that come off of the sap get suspended in the air deposits out on the wood , which then join with the moisture of the ocean air and what have you creates dry rot and surface degradation. Tim Ball , the facilities and planning director at Salk , said it cost nearly $10 million to restore the teak panels and then the window itself. So you can have the teak panels and shutters frame the personal study of Greg Lemke as he opens a window with a view to the Pacific Ocean. He says building a place just like the original Salk buildings would be prohibitively expensive. Today there is a new building planned for the Salk campus. Ball says it will be built in the same style lined up with the original plaza in its symbolic stream called The Channel of Life. It'll have an open slot roof that will allow us to take the view from the sky to the sea being transformed from a light in air standpoint to the water feature in the main courtyard , which is the channel of life that leads to the sea of discovery. The Salk Institute is fundraising for the new building now. They hope to break ground on it by the end of the year. Thomas Fudge , KPBS News.
S4: You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Harrison Bertino , in for Maureen CAVANAUGH with Jade Heineman. You may not know the name Tamara de Lempicka , but you've probably seen her boldly iconic art deco paintings , which have been featured in more than one Madonna music video. La Hoya Playhouse presents the West Coast premiere of the new musical Lempicka , about the remarkable Polish painter who lived through two World Wars. KPBS arts reporter Beth ACCOMANDO speaks with the show's creators , playwright Carson Kreitzer and composer Matt Gould.
S2: Carson How did you first get introduced to Tamara de Lempicka and what was it about her that attracted.
S5: You to doing this play ? I'm a playwright who has pretty much spent her entire adult life looking into and illuminating stories of women. I wish I had known about when I was growing up , and they are often sort of troublemakers or women who buck the system , and they are often women who get in trouble for not accepting the way things are supposed to be. And they are the women who make our lives today possible. And a friend of mine actually brought me to Marta Lempicka and said , You've got to look at Tomada Lempicka. You're going to love her. She is one of your women. I got a Tashian art book with a bunch of her stuff and I recognized so many of the paintings. I just didn't know who she was. And then I started looking into her life story , which is just insane and phenomenal. And she is a powerhouse of a woman who was living at a time of great upheaval and had to reinvent herself over and over. I knew it should be a musical , but I didn't know how it should sound until I met Matt. And then I knew how it should sound , and I knew I had to make him write this musical with me.
S5: A collaboration workshop at a place called New.
S3: Dramatists in New York City. After the workshop , Carson tackled me with that passion art book. Being like , This is a musical.
S5: We have to write this musical. And then Carson showed me those paintings.
S3: I just immediately heard music in my head.
S5: They're larger than life.
S3: They're at once.
S5: Totally real and totally stylized.
S3: They capture something about the very real nature of humanity , but.
S5: Also the ways that we sort of make ourselves. And I just thought there is poetry in these.
S6: In this work.
S3: And there's something about it that that wants to sing like.
S5: My body is in breath. I am alive. Blackwater wrote me another one. Tobacco. And I'll be. I am on fire. I. Please let me blow the smoke into your open mouth.
S3: Here in the lungs. Let's. Oh.
S5: My time seems. Sleeping child. And when you kind of started to hear that music , what was it sounding like to you ? It was loud. It was metallic. It was the sound of metal clanging against metal. I knew pretty early on.
S3: That it for me did not want to be a.
S5: Period piece musically. Carson has always.
S3: Really just held the. Reins.
S3: On in the most perfect way and just sort of guiding us through Tamara's life and the way that she would.
S5: Describe me. Carson is such a stunning storyteller in the way that she would describe this woman's life. I was like , Well , we can't set it back then. It has to. It has to feel like the kind of thing that we're hearing today.
S3: It has to feel like Lady Gaga. It has to.
S5: Feel like Beyonce. It has to feel like. Those.
S5: Women who have created their image.
S6: In the image of.
S5: People like Tomado and Peacock. And so I knew it wanted to be pop inspired with touches of period.
S3: Which , by the way , is the way that Tamara painted.
S5: She she really drew on the sort of classical influences.
S3: But brought a very.
S5: In her time contemporary.
S3: Modern approach.
S5: To the way she was painting. And it felt like the music needed to do that same thing for now. There's always a reason that you are drawn to a historical subject or that I am drawn to a historical subject at any rate. And having written. Other plays taking place in different eras. You really need to place it now to tap into what is vital and what is the beating heart of this story. And it's not some dusty period piece. It's not people , you know , clinking teacups and getting laced into whalebone boned corsets. Although that could be fun. There's some shit out there , but it is. The reason her life speaks to us is because there are things that reverberate so strongly with now and the things that she was fighting. We are not done fighting , sadly , 100 years later , actually in the course of working on the piece. It has felt connected to now in different ways , and I think that's the sign of a really alive and vital core of your story. And it just kept shifting what felt like , oh , this is this is today , this is today. And early on she is wealthy in Russia and gets married in a dress with a train that stretches from the altar to the church door in St Petersburg right before the Bolshevik Revolution. So they lose everything and have to flee to Paris. And in an early rehearsal where it was Occupy Wall Street and we were talking to the Bolsheviks , like you are the 99% , they are the 1%. And it just kept shifting and attaching in different ways. And I'm afraid now feels like the most connected and vital moment for tomorrow's story that we have ever been in. And that's that's very not necessarily a good thing because she lives two world wars.
S5: I love the fact that she's been dead since the seventies. Is. Just she's not like the paintings are so vital. They are so present. And I think the the deepest thing that I tap into with Tamara is kind of the existential question at the center of this whole show , which is , what will I leave behind ? Does my life mean anything ? Does the work that I pour my heart and soul into ? Does it mean anything ? Will it shift anything ? Will it change anything ? Will we be further forward in a time I can't see ? Well , thank you very.
S2: Much for talking about Lempicka.
S3: Thanks for having us.
S4: That was Beth ACCOMANDO speaking with Carson Kreitzer and Matt Gould , Lempicka. Opens at the La Hoya Playhouse next week and runs through July 24th.