Daily news from Monterey County Weekly

ETC. Photo of the day by Mike McDaniel. A successful first outing on a standup paddleboard in Monterey Harbor. Submit your best horizontal photos. (Please include the location where the photo was taken in the caption.)

There’s more happening now than there has been in many months. But all this activity is not without a sense of unease.

Good afternoon. 

Tajha Chappellet-Lanier here, staring at some tickets to a real, live, in-person concert on Saturday—the Cali Roots Welcome Back Concert. If I go, it’ll be the first concert I’ve been to since the fall of 2019.

I’m certainly not the only one excited by the possibility of returning to the performing arts after a long pandemic hiatus. “We need this energy to fill our cups,” festival producer Dan Sheehan told Weekly music freelancer Jesse Herwitz for a story in this week’s print edition. “Come and enjoy being back outdoors, enjoying music with friends. We are still in this together.”

We are still in this together. But what is this, exactly? And where are we at in it?

There’s more happening (in arts, in culture and in events) than there has been in many months. People are getting out to see plays, take in comedy and listen to music. Whether you’re among those people or not, it’s clear from our re-imagined Hot Picks calendar that things are ramping up. Bigger annual events are starting to reappear as well—the West End Celebration will make its triumphant return this very weekend, in fact. 

But all this activity is not without a sense of unease. “It’s so precarious,” says Stephen Moorer, executive director of the Pacific Repertory Theatre. The theater company is currently performing Shrek: The Musical at the Outdoor Forest Theater, but cast and crew are all well aware that they are just one breakthrough Covid case away from being shut down. “Every weekend we’re like ‘OK, we got through another weekend,’” Moorer says.

Some points for consideration on the pandemic front: Seventy-seven percent of Monterey County residents (aged 12 and over) are vaccinated (with at least one dose; 67 percent has the full two doses). That’s a solid vaccination rate, and in parts of the county it's even higher. Still, with the delta variant, we’re not out of the woods. We currently have a case rate of 13.4 cases per 100,000, and a test positivity rate of 3.9 percent. Case numbers, while still low compared to the winter spike, have been rising steadily since July

This is starting to lead to some cancellations and postponements. The Monterey Bay Greek Festival, which was scheduled for this weekend at Custom House Plaza, has been canceled due to concern over the delta variant. Blues guitarist Buddy Guy was on the calendar to perform at the Golden State Theatre on Sept. 3, but has now postponed his appearance “per his doctor's advice and with an abundance of caution for his fans, band, venue/support staff and himself.” (Guy is 82 years old, so this seems like a prudent choice.) 

Some organizers and venues are starting to require that attendees show proof of vaccination (or a recent negative test), but this comes with a whole host of added challenges. Mask requirements are more common, but also largely rely on the honor system. Unlike surrounding counties including Santa Cruz and many in the Bay Area, Monterey County does not currently have a mask mandate in place—just a recommendation. The county Board of Supervisors is set to consider an indoor mask mandate for public locations in unincorporated areas of Monterey County during their upcoming Aug. 31 meeting—a mandate for the entire county would need to come from Health Officer Edward Moreno.

So where does this leave us? Should I (vaccinated) go enjoy this concert I have tickets to? Should I wear a mask while I’m there, even though it’s all outdoors? If you’re facing similar uneasy questions, you’re not alone.

There are no easy answers, just shades of risk tolerance and risk management. We are still in this together.

-Tajha Chappellet-Lanier, associate editor, tajha@mcweekly.com

BY THE NUMBERS

Covid-19 test positivity rate in Monterey County is currently 3.9 percent. The county health department announced 143 new positive cases on Friday, Aug. 27. To date there have been 542 deaths attributed to the virus.

LATEST LOCAL NEWS

Three students suspended at Salinas High School amid investigation into racist incident. The investigation into student involvement is ongoing, and a third party is also investigating staff for any potential involvement.

Musician Cindy Alexander makes her Monterey debut at this year’s West End Celebration amid a packed lineup. Like so many who relocate here, it was a tourist visit that first sparked her interest. “I felt inspired here, especially in Big Sur and in the forests around Carmel,” says the singer-songwriter, who came from Los Angeles.

The quickest path to an expansion of the Pure Water Monterey recycled water project is for Cal Am to agree to buy and deliver the water it produces; however, it is not the only path. Despite the risks, Monterey water district considers leaving Cal Am behind.

A lawsuit aims to overturn Monterey High School’s football field lights project. Groups called Taxpayers for MPUSD Accountability and Preserving the Peace sued MPUSD on Friday, Aug. 27.

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LOCAL INSPIRATION

LOCAL INSPIRATION of the day. A New View by Peter Hiller. A digital photograph/textured glass; originally photographed in Mission Fields. Submit your Local Inspiration (digital art, music, multimedia, video, etc.; please include the medium you’ve used, and note when and where it was created).

Camp Vintage Antique Show is back in swing with a day of antiquing outdoors at Earthbound Farm Stand in Carmel Valley. From more than 25 dealers you’ll find an eclectic mix of vintage Americana, Wild West relics, authentic French, Asian antiques, jewelry, garden, furniture and a whole lot more. It happens from 8am-4pm, Saturday, Aug. 28.

“Inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson—a Lifelong Treasure Hunt.” That’s the title of the lecture that RLS expert Roger Swearingen will give in the Performing Arts Center of Pacific Grove. Learn more, and ask your questions, at 2pm on Saturday, Aug. 28.

An evening of improv comedy is coming to Pink Flamingo Theater. The fast-paced, high-energy show happens from 7:30pm-9pm on Saturday, Aug 28. Tickets cost $15.

BEST OF MONTEREY BAY® REAL ESTATE

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IN CONTEXT

From Congress, veterans of Afghanistan conflict seek answers. For these members of Congress, including Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Carmel Valley, it’s both a personal and professional concern.
- The Los Angeles Times, Aug. 24, 2021

The cotton tote bag problem. They’re thought of as an environmentally friendly solution, but you have to use one daily for 54 years in order to offset the impact of production.
- The New York Times, Aug. 24, 2021

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HELPFUL DISTRACTIONS

The cursed history of the sexy green M&M. What was happening in those commercials, anyway?

Your guide to the 2021 Booker Prize longlist. The shortlist of six is coming Sept. 14, and the winner will be announced on Nov. 2.

We welcome your tips, comments and feedback. 

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