Connecting California, Joe Mathews »

My Grandmother—the Dirty Harry of Pruning—Knew That Things Grow So Fast in California, You Always Have to Be Cutting Back

By | January 26, 2017

She left us only recently, and already San Mateo has gotten way too leafy.
As I drove through that fine Peninsula city in the Bay Area on the way to my grandmother’s memorial service earlier this month, the plants had returned to their old arrogance. Bushes off Hillsdale Boulevard were growing far bushier than they once dared. The trees along Alameda de las Pulgas flaunted branches …

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This Donald Trump Hasn’t Made Any Racist Statements or Told Any Lies—but I Still Don’t Know What to Do With Him

By | January 19, 2017

I have a confession to make: Donald Trump is imprisoned in my closet.
He’s been in there for months, and I haven’t dared to let him out, for fear that his presence might be discovered. What’s worse, now that he’s president I’ve come to realize that my treatment of Trump does not conform with the Geneva Convention. He’s spent all this time in a tiny, …

Connecting California, Joe Mathews »

What La La Land and an Acclaimed Satire Reveal About California’s Dark Heart

By | January 12, 2017

The brilliant new film musical La La Land is being celebrated as a love letter to Los Angeles. But the darker heart of the movie lies in a brief and devastating critique of Southern California, delivered by the jazz pianist played by Ryan Gosling.
“That’s L.A.,” he tells his lover, an aspiring actress played by Emma Stone. “They worship everything and they value nothing.”
There has been …

Connecting California, Joe Mathews »

My Hometown is Fawning Over President Obama—But the Feeling Isn’t Mutual

By | January 5, 2017

I recently learned that, in the second grade, I was part of presidential history.
Every morning during the 1980-1981 school year, I walked the five blocks between my family’s home in southwest Pasadena and Allendale Elementary School, where I was in Beverly Thomas’ class. Sometimes I went back in the evening to play in the Little League at Allendale Park, adjacent to school.
The round trip seemed …

Connecting California, Joe Mathews »

If the Golden State Is to Right Its Biggest Wrongs in the New Year, We’ll Have to Embrace Some Dirty Deals

By | December 29, 2016

Grab a glass of champagne. Then bend your mind around this New Year’s resolution for Californians: In 2017, let’s become more tolerant of political corruption.
Yes, bigotry against political skullduggery is just about the last socially acceptable prejudice in our state. And while the idea of tolerating dirty deal-making may sound perverse or strange, so are the ways we make decisions in California. We rarely consider …

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The Golden State Should Be the Voice of Reason in the Conflict Between D.C. and Beijing

By | December 22, 2016

California is trapped—caught in the dangerous space between two menacingly authoritarian regimes that want to fight each other.
One regime is headquartered in Beijing, and the other is about to take power in Washington D.C. But when viewed from the Golden State, it’s striking how much they have in common.
Both are fervently nationalist, full of military men, and so bellicose they are spooking neighbors and …

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Is California Losing Its Ability to Hablar Español?

By | December 15, 2016

How are Californians going to save Spanish?
Yes, I know that a call to preserve the Spanish language might seem ludicrous in a state whose very name comes from a Spanish romance novel. Nearly half of us are either from the Spanish-speaking world, or trace our heritage there. We constantly hear Spanish—in our neighborhoods, our workplaces, and in our media; an estimated 38 percent of Californians …

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If California Won’t Build Housing on Land, Why Not “Seasteading”?

By | December 8, 2016

The devastating housing shortage in California keeps getting worse. Housing prices won’t stop rising. Why can’t we solve the problem?
Perhaps it’s because all of the proposed solutions—more construction, sprawling construction, denser construction, granny flats, affordable housing mandates, new forms of financing and exemptions from regulation—are built on the same flawed premise: that housing must exist solely on land.
And on land, California’s high costs, environmental regulation, …

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Joni Mitchell Might Be Glad to Know That California Is Finally Fulfilling Her Eternal Christmas Wish and Embracing Its Rivers

By | December 1, 2016

California is finally embracing its rivers. But it may be a choking embrace.
We Californians have long celebrated our coastal splendor and toasted the height and beauty of our mountains. But our rivers? For most of us, they have been a mere utility, the plumbing that moved water around the state..
Today in the Golden State, its regions and its people are at long last taking …

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Why California Will Need Its Own Weed Cartel

By | October 27, 2016

If California is going to transition successfully to full legalization of cannabis, our state is going to need its own cartel.
For the record (and to reassure my friends in federal law enforcement), I am not smoking anything. And I am not suggesting that California encourage a criminal syndicate like the Zetas or the Sinaloa Cartel for weed. The California cartel actually would need to be …

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