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 …

Joe Mathews »

Justice Scalia Is Right. California Isn’t the Real West

By | July 2, 2015

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was on the wrong side of most Californians, and history, in his cranky dissent to last week’s landmark ruling legalizing same-sex marriage across the nation.
But, much as we might hate to admit it, Scalia was right when, in the same dissent, he argued that California isn’t part of the American West. And in so doing, he raised—almost certainly unwittingly—an …

Connecting California, Joe Mathews »

The Inland Empire Strikes Back

By | April 23, 2015

The Empire is back.
I’m talking not about the new Star Wars movie but about Southern California’s Inland Empire. Of course, you shouldn’t hold your breath waiting for a statewide celebration of the remarkable economic comeback of the I.E.—which encompasses Riverside and San Bernardino counties and their 4.4 million inhabitants. When it comes to this huge section of the state—with a population greater than Oregon’s—if …