CVIndependent

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Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

Today was one of the biggest COVID-19-related news days in quite a while, so let’s get right to the links:

Reopening processes around the country—and in some parts of California—are coming to a halt or being reversed, due to increasing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. In Texas and Florida, bars are being closed, and other business are being restricted.

San Francisco was planning on allowing hair salons, outdoor bars and other businesses to open on Monday. That move has been delayed indefinitely.

• And most worrisome locally: For the first time since the reopening process began, the state has told a county that it needs to re-impose a strict stay-at-home order—Imperial County, our neighbors to the southeast. And another neighboring county, San Bernardino, is close to running out of non-surge hospital beds

Riverside County is behind the curve at hiring contact tracers. The good news is that as of yesterday, the county was up to 220 of them, with 180 added in the last five weeks, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise. However, the state says we need around 375 of them.

• Dr. Anthony Fauci said the federal government is considering a new way of testing for SARS-CoV-2—pool testing. “The approach works this way: Samples from, say, 20 people are combined into a single pool,” reports The Washington Post. “One coronavirus test is used on the entire pool. If the test comes back negative, researchers know they can move on to another pool of samples. If it comes back positive, only then would each individual be tested.

A Tucson emergency room doctor penned a column for The New York Times with this headline: “I’m a Health Care Worker. You Need to Know How Close We Are to Breaking.”

• While the state-by-state numbers here are probably too small to take too seriously … a recent Axios/Ipsos poll shows that 64 percent of Californians wear masks whenever they go outthe second highest percentage behind New York.

• A JPMorgan study shows a correlation between restaurant spending and the spread of the coronavirus, according to CNBC—and, conversely, “higher spending at supermarkets predicts a slower spread of the virus.” However, experts point out that this doesn’t necessarily mean restaurants are to blame for the spread.

• Also according to CNBC: The number of homeowners delaying their monthly mortgage payments is on the rise again, after falling for several weeks.

Can you shop safely in a brick-and-mortar clothing store? Esquire talked to some experts to get answers. Key quote from Erin Bromage, associate professor of biology and immunology at the University of Massachusetts: “It comes down to how long you spend in the store and how many people are in the store. If you are only in there for a short period of time, and they’re restricting occupancy, then the risk is low.”

From our partners at CalMatters, via the Independent: University of California campuses are telling students to prepare for a fall semester that will mostly—but not entirely—take place online.

• We’re now moving to our WTF?! portion of the digest, starting with the news that American Airlines is going to stop keeping middle seats open, and resume booking flights to capacity.

• It’s not often that I’ve wanted to tip my hat to Dick Cheney, but here we are: He says that real men wear face masks.

• Did you know North Carolina has an anti-mask law? It’s true—and it’s caused no small degree of confusion. It turns out the law is a decades-old measure meant to crack down on the KKK—but thankfully, it’s been temporarily suspended, at least through Aug. 1.

• Finally, this story is particularly devastating news to those of us here at Independent World Headquarters: Costco has stopped making half-sheet cakes. DAMN YOU ’RONA! DAMN YOU!!!

• No … we take back that “finally”; we can’t end the week on that awful note. So here’s some good news: San Francisco’s Transgender District was “the first legally recognized district in the world dedicated to a historically transgender community.” The economic downturn almost forced the nonprofit to close—but then came the Black Lives Matter protests. Now, the Transgender District is on firmer footing, as “the two movements have converged in a kind of intersectional synchronicity that is bringing renewed attention to the realities of transgender people of color,” reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Readers, these are scary times. Please, take care of yourself this weekend. Wear a mask when you go out. Check in on neighbors and loved ones. Live in the now and enjoy life, because these days still count against the total number you have on this planet. Right? Oh, and help out the Independent, if you’re able, by becoming a Supporter of the Independent. The Daily Digest will return Monday.

Published in Daily Digest

Cakes, aka Monica Morones, is “a bad bitch.”

Those are her words—told to me during a recent phone interview. The local visual artist and musician is holding an art show, Bipolar, at Flat Back Art Supplies in Palm Desert on Saturday, Dec. 16.

I asked Morones to explain what makes her a “bad bitch.”

“I’m independent; I think for myself; I stick to my beliefs; and I feel like I’m a beast,” Morones said. “I feel like I can handle myself in any situation, and I feel like it’s not a defense mechanism, but that I’ve hardened myself into a bitch. I could tackle anything. I could do video; I could do photography; I could do painting; I could do modeling; and I could get up onstage and be a singer. I can do all of those things because I said so. That’s what being a bad bitch to me is.”

She explained what inspires her artistically, both as an artist and as a musician.

“My art is very raw, and I can’t even give myself a specific style because I don’t really have one,” she said. “The show ranges from abstract to fine art to super-detailed to random stuff I did on wood. I added in some photography pieces of mine that I really like. My art is kind of all over the place, but when people see my work, I know that they know it’s mine, because I stick with bubblegum pink, and I have a certain aesthetic.

“The inspiration definitely comes from being a bad bitch. I’m a bad girl, and I like in-your-face stuff. I like to shock people, and I like to make people think and make them think about me after that. I’m not narcissistic, but I like making people feel shocked. That’s an inspiration—and music is an inspiration. Anytime I make anything—I make the video; I make the song; and anything I put out—I try to do it entirely myself.”

I asked Morones why being provocative is her modus operandi.

“I can’t speak for other artists, but that’s the only way I know,” she said. “If you ever met my mother, you’d know why: Her favorite word is ‘motherfucker.’ It’s just who I am. I’m abrasive, but I’m also kind. Most of the time, I’m too honest for most people, and that reflects in everything that I do. I try to keep it in check, but most of the time, I’m an artist.”

Fashion is another outlet Morones has found for her art.

“I started sewing a long time ago and started making purses and wallets,” she said. “I learned how to put art on clothes and painted directly onto clothes. When I made a little bit of money off of it, I’d spend whatever extra money on screen printing and putting my art onto shirts, because I was tired of people not buying my purses and wallets. They weren’t too expensive, but they weren’t $20. Back in 2002, I had screen printers put my art onto a shirt, and I said, ‘OK, I’m going to make money this way.’ In the beginning, it was about money; now it’s about art. That’s the difference between being a younger artist and an older artist. But this has been 18 years for me, doing art.”

Morones said it is not easy to be a young artist in the Coachella Valley.

“I think that’s been my biggest struggle as an artist—being validated by others,” she said. “I think it’s horrible, but let’s be honest: That’s what happens when you’re an artist. You make art, and you want to be validated by people, and you want people to like it. … I can’t specifically say if it’s in the Coachella Valley, but I do know that in order to get any type of publication writing or any kind of thing like that, you can’t piss off people. It doesn’t matter what your talent is; you have to know the right people.”

Morones hinted that there might be a Cakes performance at the Bipolar art show, but she made no promises. She described her art and her music as “two very segregated things.”

“When I make art, it’s personal,” she explained. “… I don’t paint live, and I’m not a lab monkey, but kudos to whoever does that. I like to sit in my cage, watch my favorite show, smoke some weed get in a mind-space where I can freely let go. For me, painting is painting. To perform music—that’s a show. When I do shows, I try to touch all the bases of visuals and sound. What can I do to make it different? ‘Let’s put big pink cornrows in my hair; let’s get two big homosexual dancers with their shirts off wearing bunny masks to make people feel a little weird about themselves. Let’s do some weird stuff to make people feel entertained.’ When I perform music, that’s for entertainment, but when I’m an artist, that’s just for me.”

Bipolar, an art show by Cakes, takes place from 6 to 10 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 16, at Flat Black Art Supplies, 74275 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. An all-female slate of DJs will perform. Admission to the 18-and-over event is free. For more information, call 760-340-4307, or visit the event’s Facebook page.

Published in Visual Arts