Indy Digest: Oct. 28, 2021
There are certain organizations out there that have a knack for getting a whole lot of media coverage by making announcements that are outrageous, provocative, etc.
It’s a simple formula: An organization wants attention. Organization cooks up something outlandish, often tied to a big news event. Organization issues press release/social-media announcement/etc. TV stations, newspapers and the like take the bait and report on the announcement, either because they’re naïve, or because they know the craziness of said organization’s announcement will get attention from viewers/readers.
The most infamous example of this attention-grabbing game comes from a midwestern Baptist church. For many years, this un-merry gang of crackpots, known for their saying “God hates (homophobic slur I shan’t actually type here),” has announced plans to show up at funerals, or memorial services, or vigils, and picket with their hateful signs and rhetoric. They especially like announcing that that they are going to show up to picket vigils or funerals following mass shootings—even when these shootings have nothing to do with anyone in the LGBTQ+ community.
Horrible, right? Inevitably, the announcement by the church gets a HUGE amount of media attention; horrified members of the community plan counter-protests; and so on.
The kicker, of course, is that this church rarely actually shows up. They’ve already got the attention they wanted, after all.
Another organization that’s masterful at using similar attention-getting tactics—albeit for a far, far better cause—is PETA, aka People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
Whereas that church uses hate and shock to get attention, PETA often uses absurdity … as the organization did today—MASTERFULLY.
I normally have a policy of not giving these blatant attention grabs any pixels or ink, because I don’t want to play into these organizations’ figurative hands. But today, I am going to make an exception, because PETA’s announcement today was so hilarious (even if its premise was apparently inaccurate).
Are you ready? Are you sure? OK, well, here’s the “pitch” PETA made on social media earlier today:
Yes. Really. On an off-day between games 2 and 3 of the World Series, PETA “called out” the term “bullpen” for being “speciesist.” And then suggested “Arm Barn” as an alternative.
So well-timed. So preposterous. So intentionally hilarious. (ARM BARN!) I’m standing in my office, giving PETA a standing ovation as I type this.
From the Independent
By Charles Drabkin
October 27, 2021
This month’s restaurant news column has the scoop on the return of Wang’s in the Desert; the impending arrival of Porta Via; and more!
The XX Factor: Get to Know Claudia Ried, a Fashion Designer, Performer, Horseback Rider—and Third-Degree Black Belt
By Kay Kudukis
October 27, 2021
Claudia Ried is a collectable fashion designer, a mountain biker who rode the Silk Road, a horseback rider in three styles, a third-degree black belt self-defense teacher, and now a professional performer.
Musical Bridges: Jerry R. Soria-Foust, the Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus’ New Artistic Director, Leads the Group Out of the Pandemic and Back Onstage
By Matt King
October 27, 2021
Jerry R. Soria has a history of leading LGBTQ+ choruses, including the San Diego Men’s Chorus—and he was recently named the artistic director of the Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus, which is about to start its 23rd season.
By Jimmy Boegle
October 28, 2021
Cookie Plug, the SoCal chain with about two dozen locations, recently came to the Coachella Valley, promising the “thickest and fattest cookies baked fresh daily.”
By Guillermo Prieto
October 28, 2021
A happy Lucinda Williams charmed the Pappy and Harriet’s crowd with her heartfelt songs about tragedy.
October 28, 2021
Topics addressed on this week’s comics page include the age of the Earth, corporate political donors, cancel culture, candy corn—and much more!
• The latest Riverside County District 4 COVID-19 report again shows a mixed bag of news. (District 4 = Coachella Valley and rural points to the east.) The test positivity rate for the week ending Oct. 24 was more or less flat—4.1 percent, compared to 4.0 the week prior—but hospitalizations for COVID-19 are thankfully down.
• The latest report of city of Palm Springs wastewater testing for SARS-CoV-2, shows some encouraging stats: Testing on Oct. 18 and 19 showed lower levels than the week before. Seeing as the amounts had crept up the previous two weeks, this is something of a relief.
• The city of Palm Springs is shutting down Baristo Park, which had become a problematic haven for the unsheltered. Our friends at the Palm Springs Post report: “Public safety data supplied by the city shows problem are escalating. Police and fire calls for service at Baristo Park have increased from 558 between 2017 and 2019 to more than 1,245 from 2019 to the present. The park, located at 296 S. Calle Encilia, is expected to temporarily close to the public within the next few weeks for about six weeks while the city addresses the ongoing issues. Among work planned for the park will be a safety inspection, security camera installation, and a complete cleaning and overseeding of the lawn.”
• An announcement by College of the Desert made yesterday has the mayor of Cathedral City rather ticked off. We’ll have more on this later, but here’s a quick summary: COD yesterday announced it was scrapping plans to construct its “Roadrunner Motors” program facility near the Cathedral City Auto Mall. A news release said “a fiscal review determined costs at the planned location are exorbitantly higher than previously anticipated.”
That was followed by a response from Cathedral City Mayor Raymond Gregory, in which he blasted COD for blindsiding the city. Key quote: “Millions of taxpayer dollars have already been spent. All the remaining expenses related to the project were previously identified, and no new costs or cost issues have been shared with the city or the public to this point. The project was continuously included in updates from College of the Desert as moving forward and mentioned just a few days ago in a glowing article in Palm Springs Life as one of the college’s upcoming expansion facilities. The City of Cathedral City thought the project would be breaking ground soon. Instead, what we got was a telephone call Wednesday from the new President/Superintendent Martha Garcia stating that the project is no longer happening as funding is being moved to another undisclosed project.”
That was followed today by a statement from Garcia in which she elaborated: “Based on our initial analysis, the current location will increase the original project budget by more than $13 million, which is about a 67% increase in costs. Additionally, due to the land slope and elevation challenges, the Cathedral City site would only increase the physical space from our existing location by a little more than 700 square feet. These are factors we must weigh as we plan for future expansion opportunities.”
We’ve asked COD for a breakdown of the fiscal review cited in the original announcement. We’ll keep you posted on what we hear back.
• Children between the ages of 5 and 11 may be eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as next week. NPR explains the process behind the decision, and what’s holding things back. “You can think of it like this: when it comes to vaccines, the FDA is in charge of the what, and the CDC is in charge of the who. CDC’s advisory group is scheduled to meet on Nov. 2.”
• Related: Our partners at CalMatters say the state is ready to start the vaccination of children whenever the feds give their OK: “(On) Wednesday, the state’s top public health officials outlined their plan to vaccinate California’s 3.5 million children aged 5 to 11, who could be cleared to receive the Pfizer vaccine by the end of next week. The state expects to receive 1.2 million kid-sized doses in the next few days, and thousands of providers and schools are preparing to administer them.”
• As promised, Facebook’s parent company has a new name. The Associated Press has details on the big announcement: “An embattled Facebook Inc. is changing its name to Meta Platforms Inc., or Meta for short, to reflect what CEO Mark Zuckerberg says is its commitment to developing the new surround-yourself technology known as the ‘metaverse.’ But the social network itself will still be called Facebook. Skeptics immediately accused the company Thursday of trying to change the subject from the Facebook Papers, the trove of leaked documents that have plunged it into the biggest crisis since it was founded in Zuckerberg’s Harvard dorm room 17 years ago. The documents portray Facebook as putting profits ahead of ridding its platform of hate, political strife and misinformation around the world.“
• In other horrifying social-media news: Raw Story is doing a series of stories on some very bad things happening with TikTok. A taste: “Last month, after the Wall Street Journal revealed that social media app TikTok served drug and bondage videos to teenage accounts, TikTok said it ‘in no way represents the behavior and viewing experience of a real person.’ … A Raw Story investigation, however, found the TikTok experience—seen through the lens of a teen account that dwelled on law enforcement content—to be anything but safe. Within twelve hours of opening a 13-year-old account, TikTok recommended content promoting firearms, along with videos promoting body armor and rifle mounts that improve the accuracy of weapons fire. It also provided links to websites where they are sold. TikTok also suggested an account about serial killers that described the murder of a naked 14-year-old. Within several days, the app played videos that young users uploaded of their apparent failed suicide attempts, including one girl who appeared to be in an hospital.” Yikes.
• The Red Cross is offering incentives to potential donors as a historic shortage of blood and platelets continues. From a news release: “With Thanksgiving and the holidays approaching, the American Red Cross urges donors to continue to make and keep appointments now and in the weeks ahead to help overcome the ongoing emergency blood and platelet shortage that has significantly impacted the nation’s blood supply. In fact, the current blood supply is the lowest the Red Cross has seen this time of year in more than a decade.” If you can help, learn more at www.redcrossblood.org.
• This is certainly not the Red Cross’ fault, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that federal laws still prohibit men who have sex with men from donating blood, unless they’re celibate for at least three months. No exceptions.
• And finally … The Press-Enterprise reports that Riverside County is doing business with a PR agency that seems to be playing on both sides of a contentious issue: “In July, the county signed a $226,500 contract with Traffik, an Irvine-based advertising agency, to develop and deliver culturally-appropriate messages with the goal of boosting COVID-19 vaccinations among Latino, African American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities. Traffik’s CEO Anthony Trimino on Oct. 21 launched a ‘We Are Still Heroes’ campaign opposing California’s mandate that healthcare workers be vaccinated against the virus, according to PRNewswire. … ‘We are not an anti-vaccination agency nor do I take an anti-vaccination position,’ (Trimino) said by phone, adding that he is against workplace mandates.” (Related question: Why in the hell is the county giving an agency outside of Riverside County an obscene amount of cash to do this messaging, anyway?)
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