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Mayor signals action on fentanyl crisis

 December 2, 2022 at 10:30 AM PST

S1: A look at policy around the fentanyl crisis.

S2: You cannot have no consequences for selling a drug that akin really to shooting a gun into a crowd.

S1: I'm Jade Hindman. This is KPBS midday edition. Beth ACCOMANDO speaks with the star of the new movie Violent Night.

S2: You go on this wild action comedy ride , and then at the end , you come out with that Christmas movie thing of like believing in the spirit of Christmas.

S1: And we'll talk about the Broadway plays and musical performances on this weekend's arts scene. That's ahead on Midday Edition. This week , San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria signed an executive order responding to the fentanyl crisis in San Diego. It directs the San Diego Police Department to focus more of its efforts on disrupting sales of the drug in 2021. More than 800 San Diegans died of fentanyl related overdoses , many of them homeless. Sam Quinonez is a journalist and author of the book The Last of US True Tales of America and Hope in the Time of Fentanyl and Meth. He joins us now to talk about how we got to this point. And Sam , welcome to the program.

S2: Thank you for having me , Jane. Appreciate it.


S2: It is a perfect replacement for heroin. You don't need to grow poppies. You can make fentanyl in a laboratory without rainfall or sunlight or farmers harvesting it. All you really need now with fentanyl is access to shipping ports on the Mexican trafficking world , particularly on the western side of Mexico , has access to two major shipping ports on that southern coast , through which they control a lot of the flow. And they can get all the ingredients they need not just for fentanyl , but also for for methamphetamine. Of course , Mexico City's airport is also a major source of this as well. And they control the ability to get the ingredients to fentanyl to be able to make as much funnel as they as as they want. And so what you're seeing now is that this drug , along with methamphetamine as well , has really covered the country that makes it so much that they can really cover the country of the United States with fentanyl. And and it's finding its way into all kinds of things because it's so cheap , so potent. So you're seeing that it's just a stunning ability of production , supply production , because these drugs are now synthetic and they don't obey seasons like like plant based drugs. And that's that's really why San Diego seeing this , but also virtually entire country is seeing the same problem.

S1: And so in response to all of that , we have an executive order from Mayor Todd Gloria , which would increase enforcement measures against the drug.

S2: I don't think their strategies have not been employed regarding not in too many too many places that we've been consumed with COVID for the last two years. And and and I would say that making it clear that sales of fentanyl are a bridge too far , so to speak , is one of the things among many that need to happen. You cannot have no consequences for selling a drug that's akin really to shooting a gun into a crowd. I mean , you sell fentanyl , you know you're going to hurt somebody and it's likely you'll kill somebody. So , yes , enhanced enforcement. I would say this , though , and that is that this seems to me to have graduated to a whole new level in terms of governmental involvement. And I think really now a major part of this needs to be taken up by the State Department with Mexico , Mexico and the United States need to find the ways that we should have developed years ago of of collaborating on these issues over the last many , many , many years. There's no president of either country that I think has done what needs to be done in terms of collaboration with the other part. I lived in Mexico ten years and it was never that that that way when I was there. I do think , though , that this has graduated beyond what any city or county can really , in the long run do much about. It needs to get to the national governments as well.

S1: You know , fentanyl has become a major issue facing communities across the nation , as we've discussed.

S2: This has been created by what I was just talking about. So I don't think that this is a natural outgrowth of of of anything. It just is part of a culture that's evolved down in Mexico , away from plant , towards synthetics. And my my feeling is that the more we understand that the addiction epidemics in our country going back now 20 years to the opioid epidemic , the pain pills and heroin and so on , the more I understand the lessons there and to me it really feels like we need to focus so heavily on the on the most local things , meaning street level parks , churches , rebuilding and restructure and and strengthening community. To me , these are the addiction issues we've been living with. It's a long story , but but the addiction issues we've been living with have really kind of been rooted in our own a shredding of community across this country for 40 years now , our own isolation , our own of fragmentation , unwillingness to kind of be we're too prosperous maybe for our own good. We can live on our own without the. The help of anybody else. To me , this feels like a dramatic cultural pivot that happened in the last 40 years away from being around other Americans , from being part of communities. And you're seeing this in many , many , many ways. One of the symptoms , it seems to me , is this epidemic of addiction that we've seen. And it reached new levels in the last 20 plus years. And I think the focus on my last book was really about that , that we we have the ability evolved in us to need community to. And just in this country in the last 40 years , we've decided it was not necessary that we could go on being around other people , some painful or a pain in the butt. You know , now we've got this this problem that is staring us in the face , the very roots of which are our own unwillingness to to kind of be in community. And we need to think about this in those terms , it seems to me.

S1: I've been speaking with author and journalist Sam Quinones. Sam , thank you so much for joining us.

S2: Great to be with you , Jay. Thanks so much for the interest.

S1: Santa takes on a group of mercenaries who hold a family captive on Christmas Eve in a new R-rated action comedy film , Violent Night. David Harbour plays the put upon Saint Nick , who serves up a different kind of holiday cheer. KPBS arts reporter Beth ACCOMANDO spoke via Zoom to Harbour , who was in Budapest shooting Thunderbolts.


S2: I didn't really understand it. And then I read the script , and what I found was really unique about it was you go on this wild action ride , action comedy ride , and then at the end you come out with that Christmas movie thing of like believing in the spirit of Christmas. You know , when I read the script , I got a little choked up about him and this little girl , like all the lengths he went to save her and how it made him believe in something larger than his self-pity had been. And I really like that.



S4: And he said you were very busy tonight. All right. Who ? Who am I speaking ? Maybe she'd like to. And they've been very good this year. I mean , typical of all my relatives , there's two bad newcomers watching us.

S2: But they get you out of it.


S2: One of the things I really was conscious of , I wanted the movie to have that that heart , that really beating heart between him and the little girl. So I kept going back to the original Miracle on 34th Street. I wanted our movie to have that same sort of feel to it. At the end of the day. So I kept working with the director on developing that relationship and getting it stronger and stronger. I really wanted to bring a lot of heart to this wacky action comedy.


S2: He's just really into Christmas because of that Lapland type quality up there. I guess there's a lot of like , like ancient Christmas ideas that he loves. So , you know , he brings a certain sensibility that's kind of this brutal action sensibility , bloody comedy sort of thing. But he also is just a big fan of Christmas , so he brought a lot of Christmas passion to the project , which was really nice.


S2: But it's not built that way because the big old buckles in the front. There's lots of things that can catch. The worst thing was the beard and the mustache. Because I couldn't grow my own , I had to wear it's all fake. So there would be horrible tags where I'd be wrestling with some guy punched me , and then you'd turn around and my beard would be hanging off. We'd have to do it all again. So if you were going to do a big action movie , I recommend not doing it in a figurative sense.


S2: And he thought it was a thing that was going to bring about generosity and peace and it backfired. And I think when we start the movie , he's like a saccharine version of himself. He's what everybody thinks he is. So he's kind of dopey. And and , you know , in this big red suit , kind of , you know , fat with the beard and everything , and he doesn't know who the hell he is , really. And I think that's the fun thing about this movie , is he is this trope and he's created a holiday full of greed. And he has to go on this journey to sort of unearth who he was. That may not have been such a good guy , but that may be necessary this Christmas to really take on the nice and the naughty list.

S4: He said , These guys , they're naughty.


S3: And one last thing.

S2: I was a big believer in Santa Claus. I remember thinking , like when I saw that play the cookies and that milk drunk in the morning , those cookies bitten into ice. Really ? As a kid thought it was like DNA evidence. I was like , this is forensic evidence that Santa Claus actually exists. So , yeah , I was a big believer.

S3: Thank you very much for your time and for a new Santa.

S2: Thank you very much. Pleasure talking.

S1: That was Beth ACCOMANDO speaking with David Harbour. Violent Night is currently playing in cinemas. You're listening to KPBS Midday edition. And I'm Jade Hindman. For our weekend arts preview , we have the Broadway production of To Kill a mockingbird. A young violin sensation returns to his hometown and some visual art. Joining me with all the details is KPBS arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans. And , Julia , welcome.

S5: Hi , Jade. Thanks for having me on. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. So let's start with the new theater adaptation of To Kill a mockingbird by Aaron Sorkin , who is famous for TV shows like The West Wing and movies like A Few Good Men. You've seen the play. What can you tell us ? Yeah.

S5: So this is Harper Lee's hugely popular novel. It was written in 1960. And Aaron Sorkin stage version opened on Broadway in late 2018. But because of the pandemic , this is the first national tour. And as a reminder , the story of To Kill a mockingbird is set in the Great Depression and the town of Maycomb , Alabama. And it's about the trial of Tom Robinson , who is a black man falsely accused of the rape of a white woman. And it's also about his lawyer , Atticus Finch , played by Richard Thomas and his kids , Scout and Jem. And like the book , the play is still told through Scout Finch his perspective , whose age is kind of ambiguous in the play. But in the book , we know her to be six. But unlike the book scout and the play is one part of this , like three part narrator trio. So along with her brother Jem , and their friend Dill. And this is really well done. They break the fourth wall. They talk to the audience. They talk to each other as the scenes unfold around them. And the timing's also a bit different. It begins with a scene from the trial , and then the sets broken apart , and it's reformed into the finch porch , and then it hops back and forth in time and place between the trial and then the rest of the story to kind of fill us in. And I found that to be a really interesting way to experience the trial. I felt totally wrapped up in it. And Sorkin has this knack for dialogue , and it really shows here in the script. And while I'm talking about the dialogue , we should note that there are some racist slurs in this script. So in that sense , it is true to the original text.

S1: To Kill a mockingbird is at the Civic Theatre through Sunday with a show tonight , plus matinees and evening shows on Saturday and Sunday. Some young classical musicians are coming to town for a performance. Tell us about Randall Goosby and Zhu Wang. Yeah.

S5: Yeah. So Randall Goosby was actually born in San Diego and he studied at Juilliard is this phenomenal violinist. He released his debut album , it's called Roots. That was in 2021 and raises his collection of classical music by black composers or works informed by black American culture. And Zhuang is also a young musician , also studied at Juilliard , and the two are frequent collaborators. Here is a little taste from their NPR Tiny Desk performance just this last September. Here they're playing Samuel Coleridge , Taylor's Deep River , an arrangement for violin and piano by Maud Powell. They're performing at the La Hoya Music Society's Conrad Private performing Arts Center this Sunday at 3:00 , and they'll do four works , including one by composer Lili Boulanger. Works by Ravel , William Grant , still , and Beethoven.

S1: All right. And the La Jolla Playhouse just kicked off their DNA New Work festival.

S5: These are what they know in the theater world as readings. So actors will stand or sit together on a stage and they read directly from the script. They don't have sets or costumes yet , and they usually don't follow the stage directions. So yeah , these readings are of brand new plays and the playwrights have been working with La Hoya Playhouse directors on the scripts. So these readings are the culmination of this development process. They're definitely all very well written and finished , but it's still a glimpse into the playwriting process for the audience. And Saturday night's play is called The Loyal Opposition by Keith Bunin , and it's directed by the Playhouse's Christopher Ashley. And the other play this weekend is Idris Goodwin's Manny and the Wives Queens. It's directed by Hall Kitchen. And that one has a little bit of a holiday themed to it. And that one , the performances are tonight at 730 and Sunday at two. And then there are two more plays that will have their readings next weekend. And all of these are free , but space is limited , so you'll need to register in advance.

S1: Tatiana Ortiz Rubio has a solo show at the La Hoya Athenaeum and is doing an artist walk through tomorrow.

S5: And her exhibition here is called Light Cones. It's a collection of clouds , sketches and murals. And these are made from charcoal and graphite. And the name of the exhibition comes from the path of light when it's traveling through space and time. And for this show , Ortiz Rubio was interested in studying time and that the idea of fleeting moments. And I love how that works with these cloud sketches since clouds are so fleeting themselves. And she'll be doing a walkthrough of the exhibit on Saturday at 11 a.m.. And these walkthroughs are such a nice chance to hear what each piece means. And you can get a sense of the artist process as well. Then that exhibition will will remain on view through December 31st.

S1: You can find details on these and more arts events and sign up for Julia's weekly KPBS arts newsletter at KPBS. Morgen Arts. I've been speaking with KPBS arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans. Julia , thanks.

S5: Thank you , Jane. Have a good weekend.

This week, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria signed an executive order responding to the fentanyl crisis in San Diego. It directs the San Diego police department to focus more of its efforts on disrupting sales of the drug. Later, Santa takes on a group of mercenaries who hold a family captive on Christmas Eve in the new R-rated action comedy film Violent Night. David Harbour plays the put upon St. Nick who serves up a different kind of holiday cheer. And finally, For our weekend arts preview, we have the Broadway production of "To Kill a Mockingbird," a young violin sensation returns to his hometown and some visual art.