Connecting California, Joe Mathews »

California’s Coming Election Has More in Common With Brexit Than You Think

By | July 28, 2016

Do you think Brexit was a singularly British form of folly, having little to do with California? Think again. California is the global capital of Brexit-style votes, and this November’s state ballot is littered with mini-Brexits.
Don’t think of “a Brexit” as a vote to leave a larger political or economic union. (California isn’t about to leave the U.S.—though a Trump presidency would sure stir …

Connecting California, Joe Mathews »

Does Blink-182 Know Something Governor Jerry Brown Doesn’t?

By | July 21, 2016

How is California doing these days? The answer may depend on whom you believe: Governor Brown or Blink-182.
This summer has exposed a divide in perception of California, between the political triumphalism of our elected officials and the decidedly more anxious state of affairs depicted in the broader culture.
Our state’s political and media elites are selling the idea of a “California comeback.” They say—in …

Connecting California, Joe Mathews »

The Hardest Language to Learn in Silicon Valley Has Nothing to Do With Programming

By | July 14, 2016

You can’t talk to people in Silicon Valley anymore. They don’t even speak our language.
By that, I’m not referencing Mark Zuckerberg’s mediocre Mandarin or the software code underlying so much of the Valley’s endeavors. I’m talking, literally, about the words Valley denizens use when they speak, in sentences like: “Yeah, that start-up has some cool gamification, but it’s an X for Y model, they don’t …

Connecting California, Joe Mathews »

California Needs South L.A. To Succeed, the Future of Our Working Class May Depend on It

By | July 7, 2016

“How can we save South Los Angeles?” is a tired question. It’s an artifact of previous decades when the region formerly called South Central was known by its reputation for crime, gangs, poverty, racial conflict, and the 1992 riots, the deadliest American urban uprising since the Civil War.
So let’s retire the old query, and turn it upside down to pose a new and urgent question: …

Connecting California, Joe Mathews »

James Madison Would Have Loved the Way California Legalized Fireworks

By | July 2, 2016

If you venture out to Fourth of July weekend events around California, you’ll probably hear high talk about how Independence Day is a celebration of the things we Americans supposedly have in common: the same rights and freedoms and equality under the same laws.
Yeah, right—and I’m Thomas Jefferson.
To see what the Fourth—and this nutty country—are really all about, I headed to the intersection …

Connecting California, Joe Mathews »

San Diego Is California’s Most American City, and the Best Place to Spend July 4

By | June 30, 2016

My fellow Californians, declare your independence. Skip your community’s local parade and fireworks show. And head to San Diego, where the truth will be self-evident: No place in California celebrates the Fourth of July half as well as San Diego.
In saying this, I mean no offense to the patriotic pageantry of Petaluma or Paso Robles. Personally, it is hard for me to acknowledge San …

Connecting California, Joe Mathews »

Why Roy Choi Is California’s New Steve Jobs

By | June 24, 2016

Californians have fallen in love with the recipes of L.A. chef Roy Choi, the man best known for creating the Korean barbecue taco.
But does California have a recipe to cook up more Roy Chois?
It’s an urgent question. Choi probably comes closer than any living Californian to embodying the skills needed by our state today. Like Steve Jobs, who could look at existing technologies and combine …

Connecting California, Joe Mathews »

What’s Behind California Lawmakers’ Sudden Urge to Help the Homeless?

By | June 23, 2016

How did homelessness suddenly become such a hot issue across California? There are many reasons, and few of them have anything to do with people who are homeless.
Those reasons—economic anxiety, budget surpluses, tax schemes, housing prices, prison reform, health care expansion, urban wealth, and political opportunism have combined to create today’s “homeless moment” in California.
For decades, combating homelessness has been a civic obsession in …

Connecting California »

California’s Massage Industry Is Exploding, and Cities Can’t Shut It Down

By | June 18, 2016

For the record, I did not intend to get naked for this column.
But the woman at the local massage parlor insisted that I remove my pants and underwear before she would put her hands on me. And so I took it all off–in order to better understand today’s California.
Judging by our streetscapes, this is a state of massage. It has become nearly impossible to drive …

Connecting California »

Searching for Grit, Hollywood Embraces Edge Cities Like Oceanside and West Covina

By | June 16, 2016

At first glance, the setting for Hollywood’s newest gangland drama might be jarring: northern San Diego County, in the small city of Oceanside.
But you really shouldn’t be surprised, at least by the location, if you decide to check out the Turner Network Television’s Animal Kingdom, about a violent crime family headed by a very scary and sun-bleached Ellen Barkin. Oceanside is exactly what Hollywood is …