Reflections on Indigenous People's Day
S1: Reflections on Indigenous Peoples Day across the country. So many tribes faced outright annihilation. But we are resilient. We are thriving. I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen CAVANAUGH. This is KPBS midday edition. The US Supreme Court will hear arguments challenging a California law that prohibits cruelty to factory farm animals.
S2: If the court upholds California , that will embolden both California and other states to take more animal rights protective measures. And on the other hand , if the court strikes it down , it will be an interference with that agenda.
S1: How officials are preparing for wildfires and what you should know and hear about the new Hemingway in Comics exhibit. That's ahead on Midday Edition. Since 2019 , California has officially marked the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples Day. It replaces Columbus Day as mounting historical analysis of the former holiday's namesake has highlighted the tragic reality of colonization. Instead , many people hope that the renamed holiday will serve as a commemoration of the perseverance that indigenous people embody in the face of past and present injustice. Joining me to discuss the relatively new federal holiday is Joey Proudfoot , CSU San Marcos professor and the first indigenous woman appointed to California's Commission on the Status of Women and Girls. Professor Proudfoot , welcome. Thank you for having me. So to give some background , can you talk about why Indigenous Peoples Day became a holiday and the significance of it replacing Columbus Day ? Well , Indigenous Peoples Day was a holiday that was put forward by activists as a way in which to commemorate and honor the first peoples of the North American lands. And so Indigenous Peoples Day , at its core , really aims to celebrate the futures , the present , the past of the contributions , the resiliency of indigenous people. And , you know , while we acknowledge the legacy of colonialism , we don't want to stay there with that legacy. We want to talk really about our futures and a celebration of our culture and the rich heritage and the contributions that indigenous people make not only to these lands but to the globe. And how do you think Indigenous Peoples Day helps correct the historical record ? Well , it's an opportunity for people to take the time and to celebrate indigenous people , to remember , to create relationships. So for the last several years , I have been using Indigenous Peoples Day as a way to educate through edutainment. And so there are a number of ways that we can use this day to provide teachers across the country with ways in which to work with their students and a number of ways in a celebratory way to really kind of highlight and celebrate the contributions of indigenous peoples moving away from a antagonistic view of a colonizer to a celebration of the rich diversity complexity in the tapestry that is indigenous America. And so I like to celebrate with my students by providing really wonderful opportunities of learning and like I said , edutainment. And San Diego County is home to a large number of indigenous tribes. What do you feel is the regional importance of marking this holiday in an area that is so rich and diverse with indigenous culture ? Well , you know , everyone is indigenous to someplace , and that's important to recognize. And so while we use the term Indigenous , indigenous followed up by place is really important. So we're all celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day. It's really important to celebrate Indigenous people and the place that we are currently at. So children at school today , they should be learning about and celebrating the Indigenous people of where their school is located or where their home is located. So it really provides an opportunity to learn about the rich history of California. California Indians , unfortunately , have been often overlooked in the history books. We have often been mistreated , maligned , erased in many respects. And so it's a real opportunity to focus the 40 million people that currently reside in California to take a really great look at the 109 federally recognized tribes and the nearly 80 non-family recognized tribes that exist here in California , but also to celebrate the Native American people that live here who come from elsewhere. So Indigenous Peoples Day really affords all of us the opportunity to celebrate indigenous peoples of these lands , of our place based learning. But all peoples around the world and their rich contributions , everyone is indigenous to some place. But really when we look at indigenous peoples , it really starts from the land that we're all currently calling home and outside of the classroom. How should people observe the holiday ? Well , I give a lot of my students and employees and at the California Culture and Sovereignty Center , I give them the afternoon off so that they can go and celebrate with their families if they want to participate by attending cultural and social events. We're all at school today , but we're taking part of for our campus and for our California Culture and Sovereignty Center. We're participating in a National Watch Party on Indigenous People Day for the premiere of our first ever California Indian show run series on Netflix called Spirit Rangers. It's a preschool series of Native American siblings. They're family of park rangers , and they get into all kinds of wonderful , magical activities and adventures. And they work to preserve the lands , the waters , the places and the critters that call the park home. But we'd like to use this opportunity to educate parents and teachers and others about how they can learn and celebrate the rich contributions of California Indians. And you mentioned this earlier , but a lot of the focus of Indigenous Peoples Day is about correcting the. Historical record. But talk a bit more about why this holiday is so important in a present and future context as well. You know , it is important to understand the past so we know why things are the way they are now and we can understand our future. Colonization , especially here in places like California , have done a number on our people. California Indians almost didn't survive the waves of colonization. Currently , there are nearly 7 million Americans who identify as Native Americans in the United States. That's down from an enormous representation of the First Peoples. So what happened there is important to understand. It was for California gold , greed and genocide. Across the country , so many tribes faced outright annihilation. But we are resilient. We are thriving. We are working hard to preserve our language , our lands , our waters , returning land to our communities. I just learned that the Tongva peoples of the L.A. Basin have received some land back , so there's a real opportunity to while we're why we're going to examine the past and the impacts of colonization , to really think about native futures going forward. I've been speaking with Professor Joey Proudfoot , chair of American Indian Studies and director of the California Indian Culture and Sovereignty Center at CSU San Marcos. Professor Proffitt , thank you and happy Indigenous Peoples Day to you. Thank you and Happy Indigenous Peoples Day. If you love California , say thank you to a California Indian person and go celebrate.
S3: Tomorrow , the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments challenging a California law that prohibits cruelty to factory farm animals. The law forbids the sale of meat and egg products in the state when animals have been confined to cruel and extreme conditions. And that would include the so-called gestation crates used by most of the nation's pork producers to prevent pregnant pigs from moving until they give birth. Supporters of the California law say this case has the potential to unite conservative and liberal justices in supporting the humane treatment of animals. But others point to the business friendly bent of the court and say it's not likely. Joining me is Professor Glenn Smith , who teaches constitutional law at the California Western School of Law. And , Glenn , welcome back to the program.
S2: Thank you. Great to be here.
S3: Now , Californians voted on Prop 12 , dealing with the humane treatment of farm animals back in 2018.
S2: And it basically said that both in-state producers and out-of-state producers who sell pork in California can't confine breeding pigs in cages so that they can't lie down or move around easily. And then a second part of it that's being especially challenge now is that each breeding pig has to have at least 24 square feet. So six by four feet.
S2: And , you know , hundreds of them can be together. But but separate and their ability to move around before Prop 12 was passed was was , at least from my layman's perspective , fairly limited.
S3: The Prop 12 law also prohibits the sale of things like eggs when chickens are not treated well on factory farms.
S2: Although the the petitioner or the person bringing the lawsuit all throughout the levels of court and up to the Supreme Court is the National Pork Producers Council. So the focus at the oral argument tomorrow and in this case is really going to be on the impact of the pork related restrictions on the industry and on animal welfare and human health.
S2: It doesn't rip off the tongue of everyone who's thinking about free speech and whatever , but it's called the dormant commerce clause. And this one , as we know , the commerce power , is basically a grant of commerce regulation authority to Congress. That's what they use for Obamacare , for example. It's also been held by courts for decades to restrict the extent to which states , in passing normal economic and social welfare legislation , can have a negative effect on out-of-state industry. So there are several prongs of this doctrine , and two of them specifically are at issue in this court case.
S3: Can you explain the to two different angles that are at issue in this court case ? Sure.
S2: The the more typical one is is called the pike balancing test. Pike being the case. And what it basically says is , yes , the burdens on out-of-state industry are , quote , clearly excessive in light of the benefits. So it's very burdensome , but doesn't get much in the way of benefits. It's unconstitutional That , as you can imagine , Maureen , involves a lot of authority to courts to act like legislators in balance. Now , what are the pros and cons of this legislation ? The one that's less typical and which , frankly , the pork producers are trying to get the court to stretch goes by the really snappy title of the Extraterritorial Ality Doctrine. So could even pronounce it the extra territoriality doctrine. And basically what that says is when the regulation is so extreme that it amounts to controlling the prices charged by out-of-state producers , it's pretty clearly unconstitutional , and it's been a fairly limited doctrine , But the producers are trying to get it to be stretched here because the reality is the vast majority of pork that's sold in California is not produced in our state , but out of state. And so they claim that this law has the equivalent of basically dictating the practices and prices out of state.
S3: But there are other California specific laws like gasoline blends that only affect California and that the overall gas industry adapt.
S2: California argues that various major sectors of the pork production industry and various large grocery chains that buy pork have already adapted to this. And that's just the California says that's just the normal thing that any state regulation , including California's adopted for good reasons. It has the effect of making industries have to change their practices , which raises prices and consumers deal with it and life goes on. What's different about this is some of those ones that you mentioned are under federal regulation and the federal government. Congress can give states the authority to to regulate in ways that this doesn't involve. The federal law doesn't authorize Those California voters in California did this on their own pardon the pun initiative. They went they decided to do this on their own without the cover of federal law. And that's why these doctrines apply somewhat more vulnerable.
S3: Even though the court's focus may not be on the humane treatment of animals.
S2: And I think that's right. I think if the court upholds California , that will embolden both California and other states to take more animal rights protective measures. And on the other hand , if the court strikes it down , it will be an interference with that agenda. And it will make it will make legislators pause and it will make animal rights activists have to scratch their heads and figure out how to make sure they avoid this problem. So animal rights is not technically on the docket , but it certainly is informing things in the background. And by the way , I also think that certain justices will make light of California's concern and just denigrate it , too. Typical kind of new age thinking or whatever. And other members on the court will will resonate with the animal rights agenda here. And so it'll be interesting to see how that works out both at tomorrow's oral argument and in the ultimate decision.
S3: And when will we hear the results ? Do we have to wait until like next June or do you think come out earlier ? Yes.
S2: You and I are veterans of waiting to June for these big blockbuster controversial cases , but this one might well be decided in the next two or three months. Okay.
S3: Okay. I've been speaking with Professor Glenn Smith , who teaches constitutional law at the California Western School of Law. Thank you so much.
S2: Oh , you're very welcome.
S1: You're listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen CAVANAUGH. October is Fire Prevention Month , a critical Time for Fire Danger and preparedness. KPBS reporter Katie Alvarado talked with Cal Fire about what they're facing in fire prone areas of San Diego County and what you should know to stay safe. October is the start of the toughest season for fighting fires. With drought conditions , peak Santa Ana winds and the curveball of climate change. It takes a tough job to a whole new level.
S4: The need for response when these fires are getting so explosive so quickly , we're ordering everything we can right off the bat and throwing the world at these fires to try and keep them small.
S1: That's Captain Thomas Schuetz , the public information officer for Cal Fire , San Diego County Fire Department.
S4: We know that the potential for them to explode and become these mega fires , these fires that are 100,000 plus acres , that's what we don't want.
S1: He says stopping a fire from getting that big is not just critical to saving lives and property. The size of the fire determines how quickly a community recovers.
S4: They're burning so hot that they're really destroying the environment. A lot of times they're essentially moonscape in these areas , taking all the nutrients out of the soil and it's not good for the long term viability of these areas. And Quimicos is a perfect example of that. The fire moved through that area in 2003 , and really that area hasn't come back since. It's going to be probably another 100 years before we see the forest look like it did pre 2003.
S1: So what they do year round is work with homeowners to mitigate fire danger and keep fires as small as possible. And that's not easy. They have to maintain about half of the county or about 1.5 million acres , and a large portion of the East county is rural backcountry prone to fire danger.
S4: We're out here in the community of Cress. This is one of the project areas that we had from a few years back. We did a community of Crested Gua tion and really focused on clearing right along that these communities had a big potential in this community to have a fire potentially start in the community and make its way out or to have a fire coming through and really impacting this community. And so our focus became to create this buffer going along the edge of this community to really try and stop any kind of fire working its way in.
S1: In order to keep fires under control , firefighters must know where their resources are at all times and stage them accordingly. And they have plenty. But Shoot says historically , when there is critical fire weather , multiple fires break out in many areas and resources are stretched thin.
S4: Our neighbors to the north , which usually send resources down to us , aren't going to be able to do so. That's when it becomes really critical for folks to get out of harm's way as quickly as possible and to to help us prepare for events like that so that they're you've done their part so that we can get in there and go after these fires with the resources that we do have.
S1: Evacuations are daunting in some areas during normal conditions.
S4: We've seen from the studies that it would take 11 hours to evacuate 80% of Ramona. 11 hours is something that we're not going to have when the fire is blowing through there.
S1: But right now , when the moisture level is that critical lows , it's vital to heed warnings early and leave when the order is given.
S4: The brush and the grass are ready to burn. The grass out there is all cured. The brush is all dry and ready to burn. And so that's why this time of year is so , so critical and why it's so important for folks in throughout San Diego County , but especially our folks living out in the backcountry that they're prepared and really ready to evacuate at a moment's notice.
S1: Chutes warns now is no longer the time to use mechanized equipment late in the day , because one spark will start a fire and says it's important during this month of preparedness to take the time to get your family and home ready. You can learn more at Ready for Wildfire , Dawg. Kitty Alvarado , KPBS News.
S3: San Diego City planners want to rename and restructure the plan to pack more housing into certain regions of the city. But the change from transit priority area to sustainable development area could be more than just fiddling with terminology. Residents opposed to increasing density have complained about the transit priority plan , so planners propose the change to strike a new balance. But it turns out nobody is especially pleased with the proposed change , and it might be in violation of state law. Joining me is KPBS metro reporter Andrew BOE. And , Andrew , welcome. Hi.
S5: Hi. Maureen , thanks.
S5: They are called TPA for short , and they are anything within a half mile radius of a major public transit stop. That could be any rail stop or bus stop with multiple routes and a certain level of frequency when the buses come. And what they have to do with housing is these are areas where the city is meant to focus its growth. So rather than building more density , more housing in sprawling areas or far flung areas that are inaccessible for public transit. The development and our growth should be more intense and there should be fewer restrictions on building in these transit priority areas. So the city has a handful of programs that are designed to accomplish that goal. One of them is called Complete Communities. It allows significantly more density and height than would otherwise be allowed under zoning rules in exchange for more affordable housing in those projects. And this applies to areas zoned for apartments in transit priority areas exclusively. There's also four areas in single family zoning. You can build unlimited accessory dwelling units or granny flats. They're also called if roughly half of those granny flats that you build in your backyard are restricted as affordable housing.
S5: So there are a small number of properties that fall within a half mile radius of a transit stop but are actually much , much further from the nearest transit stop. If you're trying to get there on foot , they might be separated by a canyon or a freeway or some kind of fencing even , or just a street layout that doesn't have a whole lot of connectivity. And I think a big reason why this is happening now is a lot of these projects that are using these incentives based on transit priority areas are starting to get built and people are suddenly realizing I am in a transit priority area that allows for , you know , big changes in what I thought was the zoning for my neighborhood. And I'm not okay with that. So there has been a lot of discontent from groups representing mostly homeowners who are opposed to this shift or this push for more density in their neighborhoods. And I think that was sort of why it has bubbled to the surface. In addition to these longstanding complaints about does this issue or does this distance measured as the crow flies really makes sense.
S3: So how would the proposed sustainable development areas be different ? Yes.
S5: Well , first , they are called sustainable development areas because the city doesn't want to confuse them with the transit priority areas that are in state law and cannot be changed under state law for state programs. But rather than measure this half mile as the crow flies , the distance in a sustainable development area would be measured from a transit stop along designated walkways. So sidewalks , bridges , perhaps even hiking trails or paths through public parks. And so that's meant to acknowledge that people don't fly to transit. They generally walk. They might bike also or perhaps even drive. And Maureen , just to give you a sense of how complicated this new system would be , the distance measured along these pedestrian pathways would be one mile in certain parts of the city and 0.7 miles for other parts of the city. And that would just depend on how high the rate of driving is in that neighborhood. So this half mile radius. Love it or hate it , it is a fairly simple system. And the new system that the city is trying to propose is perhaps a little bit more surgical in its approach , but generally much more complicated.
S3: Andrew , You sat in on a workshop last week where this proposal for sustainable development areas was discussed.
S5: They are one of those groups that is essentially opposing density in these quieter , single family home neighborhoods. And there were several representatives from that group at the meeting. A lot of them had pointed questions for city staff. And then after the workshop was over , they sent out an email to their listserv calling this proposal a bait and switch. There were also several folks from the more pro building camp at the workshop. They seemed to be adopting a wait and see approach , so they definitely have concerns about how this change would impact housing in the city and the city's ability to build enough housing for our growing population. And it's important to note that these housing incentive programs have actually been hugely successful at accomplishing their goal. A lot of developers are using the Complete Communities program and other incentive programs that are designated for transit priority areas to build a lot more. Housing. So I think they're withholding criticism for now until they can see a clear comparison of the two systems side by side. But they are definitely concerned.
S3: I've been speaking with KPBS , metro reporter Andrew Bowen. Andrew , thank you.
S5: My pleasure , Maureen.
S1: This next story is an ode to the Japanese-American community that once farmed all over Southern California. Writer Caroline Hurtado's grandfather farmed flowers on the Palos Verdes Peninsula for 70 years. This summer , the city of Palos Verdes terminated the lease , closing the last Japanese-American farm in the area. Her story first aired on the California Report magazine as part of a collaboration with Civil Eats , a daily news source for critical thought about the American food system. Here's Caroline Caetano.
S6: For most of my twenties , I fantasized about working on a farm. I'd wake up with the birds and spend most of my time outside learning about things like soil , pests and tractors. The plants themselves would teach them more conceptual subjects on tenacity and growth. This version of myself would be more attuned to nature and to herself. The kind of knowing that I imagined could only come from true solitude away from technology and the white noise of everyday life. I didn't realize it then , but my daydreaming wasn't just a coping mechanism. It was largely a yearning for connection with my Japanese heritage and the side of my family I share it with. They'd been farming in California since immigrating and growing up , our relationship had mostly boiled down to annual pleasantries. Aside from my grandma , my boss. She always showed up at my horse shows and volleyball games with a bag of salty tango beef jerky in hand. Last year , on the brink of turning 30 , I finally hit pause on the College to Corporate America pipeline to work on a vegetable farm at my 9 to 5 job. I had been a senior editor at a small content agency , but on the farm I was just another apprentice wearing Carhartt plaster and bandages on my cracked hands. Each week , we'd seed new plants in the greenhouse transplant , young ones out in the fields and harvest as fast as we could. Every Wednesday , we packed boxes for the weekly CSA in an assembly line , usually with the Alabama shakes on hold on setting the pace.
S1: My high.
S6: There's Mark Stone. Before I ever even touched a harvest knife , I knew my favorite crop would be sunflowers. I loved getting lost in the towering rows , tilting each sunny stalk down to check how many petals had popped , stumbling to the truck with as many as I could , leaning across each arm. With each harvest , I was reminded of my grandpa , my gee John. Some 70 years ago , he'd sized up his newly leased plot of land and decided to gamble on the very same flower his farm had been in Rancho Palos Verdes , a coastal L.A. suburb straight off a tourism poster with dramatic rolling hills and cliffs to match. When I talked to my dad , Dwight Kitano , about my John , we agree that his passion for farming was always clear. I mean , John was obviously very proud to be a farmer. I don't think that that was ever really like a question for me growing up. He loved it so much. Yeah.
S4: Yeah. And , you know , his whole being was you don't.
S2: Brag , you don't talk about yourself.
S4: But you can tell he was proud of what he did. And then the product he was putting out there , you know , the happiest place.
S2: Was when he was that for him , when he was the happiest , was.
S4: Always being out at the farm. Yeah , that's. That's what was his purpose in life. His reason for. For a living.
S6: My son died in 2015 , well into his eighties , and just a year after retiring , I had a kind of awakening when I realized I'd missed my opportunity to connect with him in a meaningful , adult way. Not long after I wrapped up my apprenticeship , I learned that his farm , which had continued to operate , would soon be forced to close. Like many farmers in the U.S. , he'd rented his land and the city was terminating his lease. For my family , it meant the end of an era. But his farm also happened to be the last Japanese-American founded farm on a peninsula that was once home to hundreds of them. And this past summer , it closed forever.
S2: Probably my first memories are working at the ranch with my dad and going out there on Saturdays.
S4: Which was , you know , that was kind of our family time , family day.
S6: I grew up hearing stories about what the peninsula used to be like. Back when it was crowded with strawberry and garbanzo being farms run by Japanese-Americans.
S4: You know , as little kids , we because.
S2: The farms are so close , we just ride our bikes.
S4: Down there and run in there and start.
S2: Helping out. We thought we were helping out , or.
S4: If they were out in the fields , we'd go and pick tomatoes.
S2: Or pick strawberries with the workers.
S6: Sometimes my dad and his siblings would go pigeon hunting as a low tech method of pest control , or they'd join another farm kid named Satoshi on the combine , a sort of tractor like harvesting machine.
S4: Satoshi would drive the combines with the garbanzo beans and cut the bonds of beans and feed it into the combine and shell them into the back.
S2: So we used to go there and I'd go running after him and he'd stop and let me climb up and we'd ride with him on. And those are always just on Saturdays.
S4: And Sundays , you.
S2: Know , because it was the weekend.
S6: Now the area is home to a Trump golf course , a luxury resort and neat rows of identical houses , all thanks to the Japanese-American community who'd been working the land since 1882 , transforming it from desert into fertile farmland. Together , many of the farmers pioneered dry farming techniques that are still in use today as California's climate only continues to get hotter and drier despite anti-Asian land laws that kept them from owning farmland until 1952. Japanese farmers managed to be incredibly successful up and down the West Coast. By the 19 tens , they were already generating 16 million of the $25 million flower market business in L.A. , which is where my dad , John , eventually ended up raising sunflowers in baby's breath.
S2: He was very prideful.
S4: In the fact that his baby's breath , it.
S2: Was whiter , the flowers were whiter and bigger.
S4: And so you compare them to other growers baby's breath , and it just wasn't the same. And that's why , you know , his was so much in demand.
S6: Of course , all that progress was interrupted in 1942 when 120,000 Japanese people on the West Coast were incarcerated in concentration camps. Most of them were American citizens , and it was white growers who benefited from the subsequent price spikes due to crop shortages. It's no coincidence that today white landowners still control an estimated 98% of farmland in the U.S. and the subsequent years of incarceration. Many Japanese-Americans lost their land , had equipment stolen , and were forced into agricultural work in the camps. After the war , the USDA estimates that Japanese farm ownership , including leases , dropped to less than a quarter of what it had been. My son had been incarcerated in the post in Arizona camp as a teenager , eventually leaving his family to help fight the war against Japan. In the meantime , my great grandparents relocated to the L.A. area after hearing about its Japanese farming community from friends at camp. It wasn't until the fifties that my dad unleashed his peninsular plot from the military. When Rancho Palos Verdes was incorporated some 20 years later in 1973. Part of the agreement mandated that the land he was farming be converted to recreational use. Whether it was out of guilt , respect or plain old bureaucratic disorganization. The city allowed my guy John to renew his lease anyway until 2014. That was the year he retired and transferred the lease to Martin Martinez , who had started working with him at the farm as a teenage immigrant from Mexico. Allowing his legacy to live on through Martinez would have been especially meaningful as he represents another oppressed community that forms the backbone of California agriculture. When my gitanes expired this summer with it went our community's only tangible tie to the land we nurtured and made viable land that provided Japanese-Americans with livelihoods , camaraderie , and an anchor in times of great turbulence and terror. And although the city is pursuing a historical designation to try to preserve that history , it doesn't feel equitable in any sense. A plaque doesn't maintain a sense of place , and the story isn't singular , which naturally leads to a string of what ifs. If Japanese-Americans had never been sent to prison camps , if we didn't continue to face discriminatory laws after the war , if we hadn't suffered devastating economic setbacks , would my region have been able to buy land ? Would property ownership alone have dramatically changed California's agricultural landscape ? Of course , leasing farmland is still common practice today , according to the USDA. More than half of cropland in the U.S. is rented. One of the biggest barriers to entry for new farmers is an inability to acquire land. And because many white families already own land in some form. Farming remains a white industry. The hierarchy with white landowners at the top and immigrant laborers at the bottom stays intact by structural design. Before I started my apprenticeship , I wondered if one season would be enough to fulfill my farming fantasy. Now , a full year out , I often find myself drifting back to the easy routine of last summer. I'm spending all day with my hands in the dirt , playing Marco Polo in the sunflower fields of driving home with the windows down smelling like sweat and tomato plants. Farming offers an opportunity to feed people , but also to build collective knowledge , establish traditions and honour shared history. And eventually , I hope to challenge the status quo. One of the things I like most about farming is that you're always building on your own work. Over time , you create the kind of soil you want. Each season you review last year's notes and make adjustments to improve yield. It's a practice that rewards patients. In some ways , turning soil over is almost like burying our dead. Cover crops in sunflower stocks become food for the next generation. Which means that long after you've left land behind , there's always evidence you were there. So although my G farm might no longer physically exist in every plant that blooms up and down the peninsula , there will be a small piece of him and the community he belonged to. And that's something no one can take away.
S1: That was writer Caroline Caetano. Her essay about her grandfather's farm in Rancho Palos Verdes comes by way of the nonprofit news organization Civil Eats.
S3: This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH with Jane Heideman. The Comic-Con museum in Balboa Park recently opened Hemingway in comics. It's an exhibit that explores what it means to be an icon and how that image can change over time. KPBS arts reporter Beth ACCOMANDO speaks with Robert K Elder , whose book inspired the exhibit.
S1: Robert Comic-Con Museum is hosting a Hemingway in comics exhibit right now. So give people an idea of what they can expect coming to this exhibit.
S4: I hope they'll be surprised. Hemingway is this international figure , and he's appeared in over 120 comic books throughout the world. And it's everything from he shows up in a Superman comic in the 1970s. He shows up in an Italian Mickey Mouse cartoon circa the year 2000. He shows up in a Jazz Age Creeper , a series. So because he was a fascinating person who lived in really fascinating times. It makes him the perfect sort of historical avatar to sort of speak for these times or to sort of , you know , be a cameo. So I hope people will be educated and again , a little surprised.
S4: So I had done a previous book called Hidden Hemmingway , which is about the archives here in Oak Park. I live in Oak Park , which is Hemingway's hometown. And I edited that book with my friends Mark Carino and Aaron Veitch. And I was doing a signing at Hemingway's Key West House in Florida. And in the kitchen , there's a little frame , and it's got Huey , Dewey and Louie and Donald Duck and Scrooge McDuck. And it looks like there's a Disneyfied sort of Hemingway character. And all the word balloons were in German. And so I asked the docent , they're like , What is this ? And no one had any idea in the entire house. No , it had like nobody knew where it came from. Nobody , you know , who put it up. So I spent , you know , not five years putting that together , but as I started sort of collecting all of these things and finding out where that was from , that was from a German comic book in the 1980s. It just sort of started to accrue. And I wrote pieces about it for the Comics Journal. And then the readers of Comics Journal would say , Oh , well , have you seen this ? He's actually also in this Japanese anime , you know , comic , or have you seen that ? You know , have you seen this ? And it just sort of snowballed in the most lovely way.
S1: And in looking at all these different representations of Hemingway , what did you learn or what did you feel kind of it says about who Hemingway was and kind of how we look at him and his legacy.
S4: Well , for me , it is sort of this weird sort of meta book. So it started as a book with Kent State University Press , and then I just collected all of this artwork because I did all of the research for it. So that is the basis for the show. And because I had already been sort of steeped in Hemingway history and biographies and whatnot , what I was surprised to learn is the level of some of the scholarship and Peter Milligan's story arc in Shade The Changing Man. You know , Hemingway shows up , and it makes a reference to the fact that he was dressed as a little girl , as a kid. And he he was he was twinned with his sister. And his sister was also dressed as a little boy. And so it's the different scholarly takes and historical takes on Hemingway , because some of them are reverent , Some of them love Hemingway. Some of them absolutely make fun of him. So I just love this sort of range of takes on Hemingway , because the book ultimately is about what happens when you become larger than life , when your name becomes a brand , when you're persona outshines your work , and you lose control of your myth. So that's the most fun for me.
S1: So Robert , does the exhibit tackle any of the complexities and controversies surrounding Hemingway ? He's revered as a writer and he's contributed an immense amount to literature , but he's also been accused of things like misogyny. And I'm just wondering if that comes into play in the exhibit in any way.
S4: Yeah , Yeah. And I think I think they do a good job of that , like it's him as a whole person. He was from a different time. I always question the misogyny charge and in fact a lot of scholars do. It's like , okay , well , point me to where you think that the hypermasculinity. Absolutely. Like , that was a myth that he curated , but there are some unflattering things about him. He was and his language in letters with friends anti-Semitic , just like there's no denying that at all. And we shouldn't we should make that part of the larger picture. There's also a piece to him which is strangely relevant , you know , strikingly relevant. Because he experimented with gender fluidity , all of his wives , he sort of role swapped. And with Mary Hemingway , his fourth wife. You know , he called her his kitten brother , and he often referred to himself as Catherine as the female part of the relationship. So in this time when we're talking about trans rights and trans identity , he is strangely relevant in those conversations. So my hope is that people would see him as a whole person with flaws and sometimes huge flaws. But I think some of the myth doesn't have lasting teeth , like some of the misperceptions don't help understand him as a human being or as an artist.
S4: But he looks like Harrison Ford a little bit from Blade Runner. It's this story about the waters of Venice , and they go missing and there are aliens. But in the middle of this , Nathan never meets Hemingway and sort of talks about life. It's really , really interesting. I also love , again , just the weird stuff where he shows up in either Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck. Cartoons like that is really amazing. And in fact , those comics had never been translated. And so my next book , which is out in March with Fantagraphics , is translating that again , like it's the project that won't die.
S4: Brian , as a fellow , wrote the foreword for our book and he talks about every character having this inner life while sometimes the words are sparse. There is this inner life that you get from them. And also , he tackled a whole bunch of issues , especially in the 1920s , that would have been difficult to deal with. So not only war , but also issues of gender identity and homosexuality and Mussolini. You know , he takes a shot at Mussolini early in his career. So for me , it is the difficult topics. You know , there are a couple of stories about abortion. There are a couple stories about difficulties between men and women. And I think those particularly hold up because they represent a lived experience. And I think that transcends time.
S1: All right. Well , I want to thank you very much for talking about Hemingway in comics.
S4: Beth , thank you so much. Always a pleasure.
S3: That was Beth ACCOMANDO speaking with Robert K Elder. The exhibit , inspired by his book Hemingway in Comics , will run through the end of the year at the Comic-Con Museum.