Indy Digest: Jan. 27, 2022
The seemingly never-ending pandemic has been devastating to so many portions of our society—such as schools, medicine, restaurants and the performing arts.
And, boy, our local performing-arts community has had a tough time as of late.
The latest figurative kick in the teeth occurred at Palm Canyon Theatre. The plan was for the downtown Palm Springs company to open a three-week run of Les Miserables starting tomorrow.
Well, that was the plan. The company announced yesterday: “The royalty company that holds the rights to Les Miserables is currently restricting a large number of shows in their catalog. … We are now in the unfortunate position of having to cancel all performances of that show.”
I can only imagine how devastating it must be to have a show all ready to go, with sets and costumes built, after countless hours of rehearsals, to be told it’s not happening.
Palm Canyon Theatre is not alone in its trials and tribulations. In the last couple of months:
• Desert Ensemble Theatre did manage to get its four-member-cast production of Artificial Morality to the stage last weekend—but only after artistic director Shawn Abramowitz stepped in at the last minute to fill in for actor Fergus Loughnane, who had to quarantine after a possible exposure.
• CV Rep, which just opened a fantastic production of Life x 3 (see the review below), had the run of its previous production, Bakersfield Mist, stopped after several performances due to a positive COVID-19 case. The company was able to resume the run several weeks later; fortunately, everyone’s schedules allowed that to happen.
• Dezart Performs decided to postpone The Mountaintop from January to March. As a result, artistic director Michael Shaw had to cut one planned show out of the Dezart season.
It’s hard to be involved with local theater to begin with. The pay is small, if there is any, and the hours are long; it truly is a labor of love. But being involved in local theater these days is a mine field. At any moment, a production could get blown up by a single possible COVID-exposure.
At the end of these newsletters, I normally have a pitch asking you, our fabulous readers, to support the Independent if you can. Today, you’ll find no such request. Instead, if you can, I ask you to support a local theater (or two, or three?). They really could use it right now.
From the Independent
Unearthing History: Modernism Week Looks to Share—and Learn More About—the History of Southern California’s Black Architects Through ‘Stories Untold’
By Matt King
January 25, 2022
The three-part symposium Stories Untold: Black Modernists in Southern California will both pay tribute to African-American architects in Southern California—and look toward the future.
By Bonnie Gilgallon
January 26, 2022
CV Rep’s Life x 3 takes a look at marriage, parenting, professional competition, friendship and the lies we tell ourselves and each other.
By Jocelyn Kane
January 26, 2022
If hops include terpenes, and terpenes cause varying effects on people, it stands to reason that different beers could have different effects on people, too. Right?
Rappin’ About Colonoscopies: The Goal of ‘The Boomer Boys Musical’: Make People Laugh Until It Hurts … Even If It Already Does
By Stuart Cohn
January 27, 2022
Touted as a “side-splitting, tuneful and toe-tapping ‘men-of-a-certain-age’ new musical,” The Boomer Boys Musical has elicited hearty guffaws and stellar reviews across the country.
January 27, 2022
Topics tackled on this week’s comics page include Willy Wonka, the woke left, presidential insults, bands performing at colleges—and more!
By Jimmy Boegle
January 26, 2022
The City of Palm Springs Human Rights Commission is honoring eight organizations and individuals with its annual Community Service Awards—including the Independent’s editor and publisher.
• The numbers on the good ol’ Riverside County District 4 COVID-19 report for the week ending Jan. 23 remain scary. Hospitalizations are up. At least two of our neighbors died during the week. And the positivity rate is a yikes-inducing 31.6 percent.
• However, the Eisenhower Medical Center report has at least a hint of hope amongst all the scary numbers: As of yesterday, the positivity rate (a seven-day moving average) is down to 34.8 percent. That’s still awful, but it was above 40 percent just a few days ago.
• Related: Eisenhower, as of Monday the 24th, is no longer offering general visitation at the hospital. You can get all the details here.
• Two researchers on teaching, writing for The Conversation, offer up a piece headlined: “‘Teaching has always been hard, but it’s never been like this’—elementary school teachers talk about managing their classrooms during a pandemic.” Key quote: “Now in their third disrupted school year, students in the same grade have even more widely varied academic achievement levels than usual. Elementary school teachers in our study report needing to address up to nine different academic levels in a single classroom, when they may address two to three in a typical year. Yet they tell us they are not getting the time, support or resources to develop appropriately different lessons. Teachers are constantly having to figure out how to teach material in appropriate sequences while accommodating student absences. One teacher told us, ‘It’s just hard when students are gone and I don’t know how much new content to teach when they’re away, and how to get them caught up afterwards.’”
• A new study out of the U.K. shows that most people who got the omicron variety of COVID-19 had COVID-19 before. CNBC says: “Two-thirds of the 3,582 participants who tested positive in January reported they had already tested positive for COVID in the past. A further 7.5% of infected participants said they suspected they had previously had the virus, but had not had this confirmed with a test. … When previous variants of COVID were circulating among populations, it was thought that a prior infection, in which people had caught the virus and recovered, could offer some protection from reinfection. But there is concern that this is not the case with omicron, with U.K. health officials estimating in December that the risk of reinfection with omicron is 5.4 times greater than it is with the delta variant.”
• All of my friends who have recently had COVID-19 have had one symptom in common: brain fog. A small study out of UCSF may reveal a clue as to why. The San Francisco Chronicle (registration required; sorry!) reports: “Scientists studying the persistent ‘brain fog’ that plagues many people after a bout with COVID-19 are reporting, for the first time, abnormalities in the clear liquid surrounding the brain and spinal cord of several patients. The discovery of elevated protein levels in the cerebrospinal fluid suggests the presence of inflammation, while unexpected antibodies may reveal an abnormally activated immune system, according to a small study led by UCSF and published Tuesday in the journal Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology. ‘It’s possible that the immune system, stimulated by the virus, may be functioning in an unintended pathological way’ even though the virus is no longer present, said Dr. Joanna Hellmuth, a brain expert at UCSF’s Coronavirus Neurocognitive Study and the study’s senior author.”
• This may be the most important news story of the day—and that’s an understatement—depending on how things turn out. According to ABC News: “Moderna announced Thursday that it’s launched early-stage clinical trials of an HIV mRNA vaccine. The biotechnology company has teamed up with the nonprofit International AIDS Vaccine Initiative to develop the shot, which uses the same technology as Moderna’s successful COVID-19 vaccine. The first participants in the Phase I trial were given doses at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C., according to a company statement.”
• Focusing in on local news: If you like to floor it when you pass through blink-and-you-may-miss-it city of Indian Wells, take heed. According to a press release: “The City of Indian Wells has been improving traffic enforcement on major city streets to protect drivers and reduce speeding in the area. Indian Wells has zero tolerance for speeding and has increased traffic patrol operations on city streets including Fairway Drive, Highway 111 and Fred Waring Drive. ‘The city of Indian Wells is committed to providing our residents with an unmatched quality of life and our visitors with a memorable experience. Traffic safety is a key element in doing so,’ said Mayor Dana Reed. ‘Speeding is not permitted and the Council’s decision to buckle down on enforcement will keep all residents and visitors to our beautiful City safer.’ After residents shared their concerns, the Indian Wells City Council acted fast and authorized the use of existing overtime funds to increase traffic enforcement by expanding motor patrol operations on the major roads in the city.”
• And finally … a familiar name in Palm Springs, in some cases for the wrong reasons, is in the news again. Our friends at the Palm Springs Post report: “When is a driveway not a driveway? When it’s a request to grade 775 feet of unfinished roadway in the hills above the city on land that may be critical habitat for peninsular bighorn sheep. That was the issue before the Palm Springs Planning Commission Wednesday evening. Commissioners ultimately elected to punt consideration of the request to an ‘unspecified date’ in the future. ‘We have very serious letters from the Oswit Land Trust, the Bighorn Institute, and state Fish and Wildlife,’ said Kathy Weremiuk, who chairs the Commission. ‘I think we can assume that staff will take appropriate measures to address them before this matter comes back to us.’ Also raising eyebrows was the person asking to do the grading. John Wessman, one of two developers accused in a bribery case involving former Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet, is the owner of the property.”