Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: Aug. 29, 2022

I’ve started, and subsequently deleted, this intro three times so far.

First, I was going to write about the ubiquity of lying in politics. Then I changed my mind and decided to discuss the latest virus (COVID-19, monkeypox) news. Then I decided to save that for the links section below, and instead write about about the inane arguments taking place on social media regarding President Biden’s student-loan forgiveness, PPP loan forgiveness, double standards and etc.

But … I just can’t today. There’s a lot of darkness in the world … so instead, I decided to talk about a piece of journalism that brought a feel-good smile to my face.

The piece in question is by Los Angeles Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke, and it discusses what happened in the aftermath of a really dumb accident involving David Vassegh, a radio reporter who covers the Los Angeles Dodgers.

That really dumb accident can be viewed here. The short version: The Dodgers were in Milwaukee, playing the Brewers. Vassegh, who was subbing as the on-field reporter for that day’s SportsNet LA TV broadcast, decided to take a pre-game trip down the slide that Bernie Brewer, the Brewers’ mascot, goes down after each Brewers home run.

“I was trying to put on a show, trying to be a little silly,” Vassegh told Plaschke. “It didn’t work out so well.”

Elaborating on “it didn’t work out so well”: Vassegh crashed awkwardly into a wall at the bottom of the slide, breaking two bones in his right wrist, and cracking six ribs in the process.

Ouch. That’s not good.

What is good, however, is how the Dodgers, past and present, rallied behind Vassegh—someone who, Plaschke notes, is always around the Dodgers, but is not part of the team. Plaschke writes about what all the players did in the aftermath to help Vassegh—and how the outpouring of support continued once the video of the botched slide went viral:

After cameraman Mick Larson drove him 20 minutes to the urgent-care facility, a familiar face popped up on Vassegh’s phone. It was Mookie Betts, FaceTiming Vassegh from the Dodgers clubhouse.

“Man, what did you do?” Betts asked.

The phone buzzed again. It was Orel Hershiser from the SportsNet LA studios, calling to offer support. Vassegh eventually returned to the stadium and was surrounded by more affection. While walking in front of the dugout in the top of the fifth inning, he was greeted by Freddie Freeman, Trea Turner and Betts, with Betts insisting that Vassegh give him a hug. Afterward in the Dodgers clubhouse, he was hugged by Craig Kimbrel, then returned to his hotel to discover that even former Dodgers had blown up his phone.

Kenley Jansen FaceTimed him. Enrique Hernandez texted him. Shawn Green texted him. Mike Scioscia called him. Even Mickey Hatcher’s wife, Patty, called him.

I highly recommend reading Plaschke’s piece. It’s not the most important column or story—far from it. But it’s a reminder, one I personally needed, that there’s a lot of light among all the darkness out there.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

Sunny Outlook: Local Prodigy Maleyna Gregorio Overcomes a Serious Health Condition to Earn a Division 1 Golf Scholarship

By Kevin Fitzgerald

August 26th, 2022

Despite unexpected challenges over the course of her childhood, Maleyna Gregorio was recently one of just 40 young members of the national First Tee organization invited to attend the Second Annual First Tee Leadership Summit, held at West Creek Ranch in Montana.

On Cocktails: Thoughts on Four Classic Drinks Heretofore Unexamined in This Space

By Kevin Carlow

August 28th, 2022

There are a ton of worthy drinks out there I haven’t yet written about. Here are a few that I have missed, for whatever reason, over the years.

Contributing to a Legacy: Tom Brislin, the Newest Member of Kansas—Coming to Fantasy Springs—Talks About Writing Songs With Legends

By Matt King

August 29th, 2022

Since the mid-’70s, Kansas has produced iconic songs like “Carry on Wayward Son” and “Dust in the Wind” while touring relentlessly—including a show at Fantasy Springs on Friday, Sept. 9.

Before the ‘Thrones’: HBO’s ‘House of the Dragon’ Is Off to a Solid Start

By Bob Grimm

August 29th, 2022

House of the Dragon is a prequel that certainly honors the legacy of the original, which should make diehards proud.

The Indy Endorsement: The Buffalo Blue Mac and Cheese at I Heart Mac and Cheese

By Jimmy Boegle

August 29th, 2022

Chicken, blue cheese and, of course, Buffalo sauce are mixed with the pasta along with bits of celery and carrots.

Superhero Slog: Sylvester Stallone Can’t Save ‘Samaritan,’ an Unfunny Film With Too Many Dull Stretches

By Bob Grimm

August 29th, 2022

Director Julius Avery sucks all of the life out of the well-worn premise to render Samaritan not only routine, but dull.

More News

It’s clear that, at long last, the amount of SARS-CoV-2 in Palm Springs’ wastewater is decreasing. As the city report states: “The average number of copies (per liter) recorded at the city’s wastewater treatment plant has decreased. The average of 504,331 copies/L from the previous week went down to an average of 315,529 copies/L for August 22 and 23, 2022.” These are the lowest stats the city’s seen in more than three months—though 315,529 copies per liter still represents a LOT of COVID-19 out there.

• As soon as next week, updated COVID-19 boosters may become available. How effective will they be? That’s unclear, because—as this Time magazine article notes—this specific booster formulation has been tested on animals, but not people. Some more: “Dr. Paul Offit … says this strategy makes him ‘uncomfortable’ for several reasons. He notes that the data presented from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna in June involving their BA.1 booster shot, which focused on the levels of virus-fighting antibodies the vaccine generated, were underwhelming. ‘They showed that the neutralizing antibody titers were between 1.5- and two-fold greater against Omicron than levels induced by a booster of the ancestral vaccine,’ he says. ‘I’d like to see clear evidence of dramatic increase in neutralizing antibodies, more dramatic than what we saw against BA.1, before launching a new product. We’re owed at least that.’ … Other experts see it a little differently. Based on the fact that the mRNA vaccines have been administered to millions of people so far, with relatively few safety concerns, and given that the vaccines have been effective in protecting people from getting hospitalized or dying of COVID-19, even during the latest Omicron surges, they argue that changing the strain of virus in the vaccine doesn’t require the same extensive testing that the original shot did. ‘The totality of evidence is relevant here,’ says Dr. Ofer Levy, director of the precision vaccines program at Boston Children’s Hospital, and also a member of the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee.”

The New York Times reports that a lot of the funding that was aimed at earlier vaccination efforts has dried up. However, that may not matter: “With the virus killing far fewer people than it once did and many Americans reverting to their prepandemic ways, the country’s no-expenses-spared attitude to saving lives has evolved into a response that has put a greater onus on individuals to protect themselves. In keeping with that approach, many health officials believe the vaccine machinery is in place to meet what they expect, lamentably, to be tepid demand this fall. But others are worried that the country is surrendering a decisive opportunity to stoke that demand and restore the more robust vaccination efforts that lifted last year’s initial rollout. ‘We are watching the dismantling of the hyperlocal infrastructure that actually brought needles to arms in the most vulnerable communities in the country,’ said Stephen Thomas, the director of the Center for Health Equity at the University of Maryland. ‘To this day, vaccine uptake in the United States is embarrassing.’”

Meanwhile, the embarrassingly slow monkeypox-vaccination effort is picking up some steam. Bloomberg reports: “The Biden administration signed an $11 million deal to support a Michigan company that’s helping make vaccine against monkeypox, another move to bolster prevention of the quickly spreading virus. The Health and Human Services Department’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority is providing the funding to help Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing Inc. acquire equipment and personnel to finish manufacturing 2.5 million monkeypox vaccine vials, according to details of the agreement viewed by Bloomberg. Grand River agreed in August with Bavarian Nordic A/S, the shot’s maker, to fill and finish the vials.”

CNN looks at the initial results of a controversial Biden administration decision to get more doses out of each monkeypox vaccine vial: “Some (jurisdictions) say the shift has stretched their vaccine supply, helping them meet a growing demand for the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine. Others report a hurdle — while the new method should allow for five small doses of vaccine to be extracted from a single vial, they have only been able to extract about four. The situation ‘does vary geographically,’ Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers, wrote in an email to CNN. About three-quarters of jurisdictions in the United States have shifted to using the intradermal method of administering monkeypox vaccine, Bob Fenton, the White House’s national monkeypox response coordinator, said in a briefing.”

It’s going to be a crazy few days at the Legislature. Our partners at CalMatters report: “It all comes down to this. The two-year legislative session ends Wednesday at midnight, giving Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers just three days to hammer out agreements on complex, controversial bills and budget items encompassing everything from nuclear power to abortion to youth vaccination. According to veteran Sacramento lobbyist Chris Micheli, legislators still need to determine the fate of about 525 bills, or about 175 per day. (Newsom on Friday signed a pile of less contentious bills already sent to his desk.) Looming over the frenetic negotiations is the Nov. 8 general election, which adds an extra layer of political complexity when it comes to voting on controversial proposals—especially for lawmakers running for contested seats in the state Assembly and Senate.”

• And finally … we started with slide-related news, so we should probably end with slide-related news, too. The Associated Press reports: “A giant slide in Detroit reopened Friday to people willing to see if its modified surface was a bit tamer, days after video went viral of riders getting bounced around on the bumpy ramp. The Department of Natural Resources scrubbed the surface at Belle Isle state park, sprayed water and advised riders to lean forward in their burlap sack. Indeed, some people found the slide more comfortable than it had been.”

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Jimmy Boegle

Jimmy Boegle is the founding editor and publisher of the Coachella Valley Independent. He is also the executive editor and publisher of the Reno News & Review in Reno, Nev. A native of Reno, the Dodgers...