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Pride Weekend In San Diego

 July 16, 2021 at 9:59 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 This week on round table, we're focusing on arts and entertainment in San Diego, starting with pride weekend. How organizers are balancing a mix of in-person and virtual events this year. And the final steel beam is in place a big milestone for the new stadium taking shape in mission valley and cinema junkie rebooted we'll hear from the host of the new KPBS podcast, all about the new movies. I'm Matt Hoffman and the KPBS roundtables starts now welcome to our discussion of the week's top stories. I'm Matt Hoffman. And joining me on this remote edition of the KPBS round table are KPBS arts, calendar editor and producer Julia Dixon, Evans, KPBS news, reporter John Carroll and Beth OCHA Mondo host of the KPBS cinema junkie podcast. July has traditionally been a month for some of San Diego's biggest events, but the pandemic cleared everyone's calendar last year. And some of that uncertainty is lingering with no Comicon this summer, but another event that draws people from around the world is back with San Diego pride, offering a mix of in-person and online events to meet people at their comfort levels. Julia Dixon Evans is part of the arts team here at KPBS and joins us to talk about pride 2021. Hey Julia. Hi Matt. Thanks for having me on. Yeah. And so this weekend is the big one with the spirit of Stonewall rally on Friday, and then the pride block party, but events like this have been going on all week. So in general, how's it been going so Speaker 2: 01:31 Far? Yeah, so they kicked things off last weekend with Xi Fest and what they called their resilience March. Um, she Fest was actually the best attended year they've had for that program. And the resilience March had something like 16,000 people. It was a, it was a protest March style. They walked from Balboa park to Hillcrest and it's, it's kind of a far cry from the quarter of a million people that they see out for the parade on a typical year, but that's still something. And Speaker 1: 02:01 You talked with the pride executive director, Fernando Lopez, they talked about all the planning and all the uncertainties that they experienced this year. So what's different this time Speaker 2: 02:09 Around. Yeah, one thing they said that struck me was they went from being a $4 million organization to being a $650,000 organization, basically overnight during the pandemic. And they also said that because major events like, like a parade just takes so much advanced planning. They said, as they looked ahead to this spring, the organization really had to come up with three budgets, one kind of for every stage of, of lockdown or full opening. And they realized pretty early on that the middle of the road option would be where they'd land. And that's this, this hybrid format they're doing this year. Speaker 1: 02:49 And what else is going on this weekend as far as the in-person events Speaker 2: 02:52 Go? Yeah. So there's the spirit of Stonewall rally. That's Friday at six, o'clock at the pride flag. They're also doing a Hillcrest pride block party running Friday and Saturday afternoon, well into the night, but that that's mostly sold out. There's a couple of VIP day ticket options still available. There's also something they're calling pride at the park that said VA houses, outdoor park. There's going to be DJs and drag artists from RuPaul's drag race. That's Saturday evening, uh, for kids there's stuff too. There's a family gathering. That's outdoors at the San Diego youth services spring valley campus. That's gonna be on Sunday afternoon and also something cool is next weekend. Escondido's hosting their first annual pride. That's going to be on Saturday street, fair style. And also one thing on my radar is for soccer fans. There's a special pride loyal game. And also there's a ton of pool parties at various hotels, all around town. Speaker 1: 03:57 And COVID-19 effected everyone, including those who partake in pride and organizers decided to go with this hybrid model. As you said, keeping an online element this year to address some of those concerns. And what did Lopez tell you about the demand for online and virtual events this year? Speaker 2: 04:11 Yeah, they told me that readiness is all over the map. Some people wanted more and were upset. They weren't having a parade and a festival and other people think it's too much too soon. So as an organization and they're trying to offer as much as they can for everyone. And Lopez said, right now, they're focusing on, on caring for their community. It's a period where LGBTQ individuals have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. This is coming from a place where these systemic inequalities, um, less of a support system. There's an astonishing rate of homelessness among LGBTQ youth. Something like 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. So that affects access to mental health services. It causes healthcare inequalities, and that all has made for a worsen to toll from the pandemic. And even within their staff, they at pride, they lost a lot of friends and family members. So they're all still grieving. Everyone has different comfort levels too, but also they told me that last year when it was fully virtual, they had 750,000 people watch the virtual content they put out. So that's triple what they usually see crowd wise. Um, we've been seeing very recently across the performing arts sector that people's interest in virtual events is starting to drop off a little bit, but it's still there. So hybrid is definitely the choice for them right now. Speaker 1: 05:45 And backing up a little bit on Tuesday night, San Diego mayor Todd Gloria took part in a special pride lighting ceremony at Balboa park. This is also the first local pride with an openly gay mayor. How significant is that for and the pride organizers? Speaker 2: 05:59 Yeah, there's, there's a lot of firsts going on for sure, but also, uh, kind of a stronger focus on the history and their resilience of it. Uh, when mayor Gloria spoke at the opening ceremony this week, he drew on that long history and it's, it's a history of strife and, and continued violence, particularly. Um, Gloria pointed out violence towards black trans women. And this pandemic year has shown that there are life and death repercussions from all of these inequalities. One thing Lopez said several times was the marriage equality. Isn't won the fight isn't done. And inequalities are still rampant. We mentioned Speaker 1: 06:42 That lighting ceremony, what are some of the landmarks that will be lit up this weekend in honor of pride? Speaker 2: 06:47 Yeah. So the Oregon pavilion at Balboa park, there's the convention center, the sales, uh, San Diego county building the port of San Diego building. And then also St. Paul's cathedral in Hillcrest. And I mean, I also heard that the pool at Harrah's resort will also be lit up with rainbow lights to swim in sounds Speaker 1: 07:08 Like a lot. Is there something arts-related during pride that you would recommend people have to go and check out and see? Speaker 2: 07:13 Yes. So I talked to mid-day about this today, but one thing worth another nod is a family-friendly play that diversionary theater is performing. I wrote about this one this week. It's, it's a live in person show it's free. And it's in the outdoor courtyard at St. Paul's cathedral on Saturday afternoon at one and four o'clock that play is called dear one love and longing. And mid-century America is written by a trans play, right? And it's a collection of these actual archive letters that were sent into one magazine, which was around in the fifties and sixties. It was the country's first, openly gay and lesbian periodical. Plus it's being performed by their teen version, the program, which is an outreach project for youth. You Speaker 1: 08:01 Write the KPBS arts newsletter and edit the arts calendar. And we know that pride in the arts are intertwined. So why is an event like pride so important for artists and our shared culture? Speaker 2: 08:10 Yeah, pride really does honor the arts and performers. There's so much music and drag artists and poetry, visual art, and plenty of theater, but, um, art, when you think about it is really about storytelling at its core. And storytelling is always this really powerful tool for understanding your neighbors or building empathy and community. And it's also literal work paid work for the arts sector. Pride has hired hundreds of LGBTQ artists and performers this year. And also this year, we can't really answer this question without talking about Larry Basa, who was an artist arts advocate, LGBTQ activist, who we lost to in February of this year. And Lopez, the ed of pride said that they had been considering adding an arts and culture award to their annual spirit of Stonewall awards. Uh, they've been considering that for a while now. So this year they're doing it and they're naming it in honor of Basa. So the, the first annual Larry T bossa art and culture award will go to Matt Morrow. Who's the executive artistic director of diversionary theater. And, uh, he'll be presented that on Friday night at the spirit of Stonewall rally. Speaker 1: 09:31 I've been speaking with Julia Dixon Evans who covers the arts for KPBS. Julia, thanks so much. Thank you so much, Matt. It was a pleasure. According to Fox sports, San Diego was the highest rated local market for Tuesday nights, major league baseball all-star game. A big part of that was due in part to Padre fans tuning in to see four of their stars on the big stage sports as a part of our shared culture. And another piece is taking shape right now in mission valley. The new Aztec stadium is the centerpiece for the big redesign of the stadium site. They used to host the Padres and the chargers KPBS reporter John Carroll was there for a significant milestone in its construction this week and joins us now, Hey John, Hey there, Matt. So many of us have driven by this stadium site over the past year or so and seen some of the progress there. What was your initial impression when you were there on Wednesday? Speaker 3: 10:16 Well, the first thing is if you haven't driven by in a while, or you just haven't looked over there, it's kind of a shock to not see the former stadium by whatever name you want to call it. Just not there anymore. Uh, once you're close to it and then inside, uh, down on what used to be, or the field will be the field as a wheel, we're on a Wednesday, it's quite a bit smaller than the old stadium. But another thing that was kind of surprising is just how many workers are there, dozens and dozens of them. It's very clear. They have a deadline that is as set in stone as any deadline can be. And they're moving really fast to get the new 35,000 seat as tech stadium ready for its debut next fall. Speaker 1: 10:58 So you were there for the topping out ceremony where the final piece of the steel frame was carried into place. And what did you hear from the people onsite about this work and what it's like to be part of such a visible and high profile project? Speaker 3: 11:09 Right. Well, there's a reason they call it a ceremonial topping out. There is still a lot of construction head, by the way, just on that note, it was really cool to watch that beam being lifted, anybody there who wanted to sign it with these special white ink markers they had could do that. I did that, uh, then they lifted it, uh, with an American flag and a live tree on top of it. Now I never knew this, but having a live tree on a topping out element, whatever it might be is considered good luck when it comes to building something. Um, but as far as what you're seeing the people there go, um, so it was of course, all the construction folks, the media and invited guests. Those were primarily big donors and prominent alumni of San Diego state. So all of folks are deeply invested both financially and emotionally in this project. Now you probably know this, Matt you're a San Diego state graduate. It's been in the works for about four years. Now. You'll recall there was political wrangling over what would happen on that site, but voters ended up giving the nod to San Diego state, of course. So there's just a lot of energy behind this thing. And I have to say the feeling there was pretty electric, lots of excitement about what's to come there. San Speaker 1: 12:18 Diego state's president said the stars have aligned when it comes to the speed in which construction has progressed, but we know that there could be delays. Does it look like they're on track to reach that goal of hosting Aztecs football there next year? Speaker 3: 12:30 So that seemed like the most obvious question for me to ask of a Dilla Delatorre. As I said, in my story on Wednesday, she's absolutely certain that it's going to be ready by September 3rd of next year. Now hit had better be ready because on that day, the Aztec football team is scheduled to play the university of Arizona. And by the way, that game is already sold out. So I don't even want to think about the logistical nightmare. It would be if for some reason the stadium isn't ready on that day, but Matt, just one quick anecdote on that. Um, once the ceremony had wrapped up and people were leaving my photographer and I hung around a bit longer to pick up some shots that we needed, but even before all the guests were gone, folks from the construction crews started removing all the tables and these tents, they had up there for shade that had been set up for the event. So that certainly told me they're not wasting a second. I mean, I'm no construction expert, but if any big project I've ever seen looks like it will come in on time. That would certainly be it. Speaker 1: 13:26 San Diego [inaudible] Todd Gloria was there on Wednesday too, and called this project big, bold and exciting. And the sort of thing that the eighth largest city in the U S should be doing. What else did he tell you about this transformation and mission? Speaker 3: 13:39 Well, this is a good time to remind everybody that this isn't just about Aztec stadium. The stadium itself is part of a much larger overall project. As we're saying, they're calling it SDSU west, along with the capacity that will bring, uh, to enroll up to 15,000 more students, the site will also feature a river park, which will give access to the San Diego river that San Diego is, have never had before. And that area should be really beautiful. Um, there will also be a research and innovation district and 4,000 new homes. Now that last one really set off some alarm bells in my head because you know, anybody who's done any driving around mission valley knows how horrendous the traffic is. So I asked the mayor about that. He's of course, thinking about the dire need for more housing in this city, but he pointed to a huge regional transportation plan that SANDAG will be taking up later this year. Speaker 3: 14:32 That's the San Diego association of governments. Of course, that part of mission valley already has very good bus and trolley service. There's that station right there, uh, that they built for the former stadium. Uh, but Gloria says this plan will include much more infrastructure that he says will keep that area from becoming even more congested. We'll see. But even if the SANDAG board passes the plan in the form that the mayor would like, it's still going to take years to build out that new infrastructure and those new residents of mission valley will have lived there for a number of years by that point. So we'll Speaker 1: 15:07 Now John, these things don't always go according to plan, and those who have been in San Diego for a while, they might remember many delays in building Petco park and maybe a more recent example is the midway redevelopment. That's still on hold. Is there anything that we can point to for why this process seems to be going a lot smoother? Speaker 3: 15:24 You know, I I'd have to return to remembering who has been supporting this project from the get-go. There are a lot of San Diego state alumni in this town. Obviously some of them are pretty prominent folks. So when you have that kind of base of support that can those folks reach out to their friends in the community, and that builds a real big energy. I just think that has a lot to do with why once the voters gave the green light, this project moved along pretty smoothly. Now you might recall there was some back and forth between the university and the city on a number of issues surrounding the entire project, but none of that ever got completely bogged down. Um, it did take a matter of months as you'll recall, but the two sides obviously work things out, Petco as popular as it is. And as it was back then just didn't have that kind of deep rooted support in this town that can quickly or relatively quickly overcome obstacles. And as far as the midway redevelopment project, I think that's a subject for another round table discussion, right? Who knows what's going to happen? Hint, Speaker 1: 16:24 Hint for our producer, Ben voters were not sold just on a new Aztec stadium, but all the surrounding development and much of it will be for the SDSU campus expansion, but not all of it. What else has planned for the site? Speaker 3: 16:37 You know, in many ways when it's complete, it's really going to be a little city inside the city. There will be more than a million and a half square feet of research and innovation space, which will allow private entities to work with the university, which of course will be a big benefit to students and to those companies as well. Um, the river park I mentioned, uh, if it comes out like it looks in the artist's renderings should really be magnificent. Um, also more than 80 acres of open space, including athletic and recreational fields, plus more than four miles of hiking and biking trails, of course the stadium itself will be used for much more than football. It's also going to, we think host professional soccer, concerts, and other events, and it's built, they say so that it can be expanded to someday be the home of another NFL team in San Diego. We'll see, 95,000 square feet is set aside for retail and business services and a 400 room hotel. I didn't mention this in my story on Wednesday, but definitely important. A 400 room hotel is planned with plenty of conference space. And on that, like the research and innovation space, this will also be really beneficial to students in SDSU, school of hospitality and tourism management and finally 6,000 parking spaces. So it is a very large project. Speaker 1: 17:57 And so we know that this was sort of ceremonial, but do we know which pieces will come next? Once the stadium work is complete? Speaker 3: 18:02 I know park is being built out, um, either right now, or very soon along with the stadium. But beyond that, I do not know, but of course you can count on us at KPBS. We'll keep on top of that and we'll let our audiences know as this really huge project comes into reality. San Diego, Speaker 1: 18:21 I've been speaking with John Carroll reporter for KPBS news. You can find his story on the new and on the KPBS YouTube page. Thanks so much, John. Thank you, Matt Hollywood is hoping that the summer blockbuster will make a comeback this year. As more people feel comfortable going back to the movies and here at KPBS, our cinema junkie podcast is making its own comeback and refresh version of the show hosted by arts and culture reporter Beth Armando is now live with the first episode of cinema junkie now available along with a new companion video series that we're about to get into here as well. That DACA Mondo is here to tell us more about it. Hey Beth. Hey, thanks for having me. Yeah. So Beth first, why did you think it was time to do a reboot of cinema? Speaker 4: 19:03 Well, you know, everything needs to get polished up and brightened every now and then, and I'd been doing it since 2015 and I felt like I wasn't getting a whole lot of traction with it and I wanted to get more feedback on it and find out what I can do to kind of freshen it up and make it a little more engaging to listeners because there's so much more competition now. You know, when I started it, it was more like the wild west for me. It was, you know, they could be any length and they could run whenever you wanted them to. And now I think there's a little more structure and formatting. So I wanted to kind of look into that and try to make cinema junkie a little more polished. Speaker 1: 19:40 You also do movie reviews for KPBS and the podcast is more of a discussion for those who are new here, what should they expect? Yeah. Speaker 4: 19:47 So I love going for deep dives into films. I love to be able to talk at length about something. So I might talk about film war or blaxploitation cinema, or even just a single film and to be able to talk at length about that and really delve into details and try to get people excited about a particular genre or a particular filmmaker is really what I want cinema junkie to be about. It's about literally sharing my addiction to film. I want people to be as excited about movies as I am. Well, your Speaker 1: 20:21 First show is back just in time for the upcoming Comicon at home. And you recently reviewed the latest black widow film, and we know that these movies have really become a major engine for Hollywood. So big picture here. What do you make of just how much this genre has grown? Well, Speaker 4: 20:34 Especially right now, you know, people haven't been in cinemas for over a year and the attraction of these big movies. I mean films like F nine and black widow. You want to see something that takes up that entire, and that basically takes you out of reality completely. And I think those films are great for that. And I think that's what the initial draw back to theaters is going to be. It's that spectacle of going to a movie and, you know, comic book movies and comic book influence products have been around for a long time. You know, when Superman came out in the thirties, there was pretty quickly after that a radio show and then later a television series. And so we've always kind of had comic book movies and comic book shows available to us. But I think with state-of-the-art special effects and CGI, we're just able to create those worlds so much better. And it's catching on for people. You know, people love going to movies for escape, but I think what I explore in the podcast is as well, it's escape. There's also a larger context to look at those films and to really see how they're reflecting our culture and our values and issues that are really current in Speaker 1: 21:46 Your latest cinema junkie episode. You talk about the link between comic book movies and critical thinking. And we know you said you like deep dive. So why was that an idea that you wanted to explore? Speaker 4: 21:54 Well, my guest is Arnold T Blumberg and he teaches at the university of Baltimore and we generally bond over zombies because he's also known as the doctor of the dead, but he has the distinction of teaching the first college course on the Marvel cinematic universe. And the thing about this is that if you use something that students are already interested in, it is a great gateway to getting them to come and discuss things that they might be a little more hesitant or reluctant to dive into. But you know, you show them some of the Marvel movies and they look to discussions about drones and the government spying on you and how much freedom do we have to give up for security and talking about it within captain America is a very different way to access their ideas and to get them thinking about things. And that's what Arnold really does a great job of is he also taught zombies and use that to reflect social issues. And so I think it's important to know that pop culture is really a reflection of us in very extensive ways. And I love to use pop culture as a means of getting into other issues. Speaker 1: 23:01 You just hosted a sort of virtual premiere on the streaming platform Twitch. So do you hope to do more of these online events or what can people expect as far as more of this coming down? Well, since Speaker 4: 23:10 We're just coming out of the tail end of the pandemic, we couldn't do a live event. So Twitch seemed to be a great opportunity to try something a little different. And I would love to do things again on Twitch. It's a fun format to use. I love how PAC arts has been using it for this mystery Kung Fu theater during the pandemic. And so I hope to try some experimental things as we move forward. Speaker 1: 23:33 And for those looking to support independent films, you actually broke some news on your virtual premiere on Twitch. Where's the new location for digital gym. Speaker 4: 23:40 Yeah. So digital gym cinema got booted out of their location on alcohol Boulevard. And during this pandemic, they've had an opportunity to partner with UC San Diego and UC San Diego is building a beautiful, it's felt the building is built, but it's a beautiful building at market and park for stories and digital gyms. Cinema is going to be one of the tenants there, and there is a beautiful cinema that's being built there. It's a micro cinema, only 66 seats, but it's going to be state-of-the-art. And it's a wonderful opportunity for independent foreign documentaries, all these kinds of films that may not be as readily available in the big multiplexes. And it's a, an opportunity for people to see those kinds of films. And I program there through a volunteer group called film geek San Diego. So it's just a great opportunity to showcase different kinds of programming and highlight different voices. Speaker 1: 24:31 Getting back to cinema junkie. There's also a new visual element. Tell us about the geeky gourmet series on YouTube. Speaker 4: 24:37 KPBS wanted to do a little more with their YouTube channel. And I said, well, you know, I cook themed food to go with all the movie screenings I do. And I said, I could offer a geeky gourmet where I'll show you how to make seven Hobbit meals or I'll show you how to make comic book cookies that you can eat while you listen to my podcast about the Marvel cinematic universe. So it was just an opportunity to, again, share my addiction to film. And the fact that film is about a communal experience. It's about watching films with other people and having some sort of event around it. Even if that event is just serving some treats along with the movie in your living Speaker 1: 25:13 Room. Well, it sounds like it's been a busy time for you and we know Comicon at home is coming up soon and you'll be covering that as well. And finally, if you could remind us, when can we expect new content from your cinema junkie podcast and where can we find it? Speaker 4: 25:24 Sure. Cinema junkie comes out every other Wednesday and you can go to junkie. Speaker 1: 25:31 In speaking with Beth OCHA, Mondo host of the KPBS cinema junkie podcast. She also covers arts and culture for KPBS news. Thanks so much, Beth. Thank you. That wraps up this week's edition of the KPBS round table. I'd like to thank my guests all from KPBS news, Julia Dixon, Evans, John Carol, and Beth Mondo. If you missed any part of our show, you can listen. Anytime on the KPBS Roundtable podcast, I met Hoffman. Thanks so much for listening and join us next week on the round table.

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San Diego Pride enters its biggest weekend with a mix of in-person and virtual events, a milestone for construction of the new SDSU stadium in Mission Valley, and KPBS relaunches its Cinema Junkie podcast about all things film.