Joe Mathews, a long-time reporter and son of journalist parents, has been known to wear a tie printed with the California state flag. That is, when he wears a tie. “I don’t have many ties, only two or three. I don’t like wearing them,” he said. “But I’ve had this tie for a while, and wore it to a lot of interviews when I was writing my book on Gov. Schwarzenegger. It was a good conversation starter.” You can get your own at the state capital, and read more about Mathews below.
Q. What do you wake up to?
A. The screams of a two-month-old baby boy, Ben Mathews.
Q. What music have you listened to today?
A. On NPR, [there was] a sponsorship message for Air Supply – three nights somewhere in Orange County, with that song, “Whole lotta love….” That’s the only music I can remember hearing.
Q. What is your favorite word?
A. I like the word Pasadena. It sounds good. It sounds like home.
Q. What comforts you?
A. Lasagna. Baseball – not watching it but playing it, coaching it.
Q. What inspires you?
A. I am not sure I’m easily inspired…. I get inspired by a fight. Being angry sometimes gets me going more than anything else.
Q. How would you describe yourself in five words or fewer?
A. Californian. An upbeat but cynical person.
Q. If you could live in any time, past, present or future, when would it be?
A. Fifty to 100 years from now. Despite all the public debt, things will be better, a lot better, particularly where we are.
Q. What is your favorite alcoholic beverage?
A. I don’t drink. At bars it’s usually a 7-Up.
Q. What is your greatest extravagance?
A. What I spend probably more money on than anything else is baseballs. I can’t have enough baseballs. The actual balls are more and more expensive. A good one is now five bucks, which is horrible.
Q. If you could take only one more journey, where would you go?
A. Ireland, where I have a lot of family history, and Spain, which for Californians is more the mother country than England and the British Isles.
Q. What profession would you like to practice in your next life?
A. A left-handed relief pitcher…. It’s very light work, it’s well-paid, it’s a lot of fun, interesting travel. There’s a bit of pressure to it if the game is close, but I’d love it.
Q. Whose talent would you like to have?
A. Johan Santanas.
Q. What is your favorite holiday and why?
A. Thanksgiving…. I like the hot ones, when it’s one of those 80 or 90 degree Thanksgivings. The food is great, there’s football…. It reminds me of my great-grandmother who used to host these massive Thanksgivings in this tiny one bedroom house.
Q. What’s your fondest childhood memory?
A. The time I spent in Allendale Park, Pasadena, playing, going to the library.
Q. What is your most prized material possession?
A. It’s a hammer, actually. It was my step grandfather’s hammer…. He was a wonderful guy who died fairly young, and I was only 7 or 8. It’s a warm memory because of him but also it’s a really good hammer. It’s old, it’s not particularly good-looking but it really hammers everything. I don’t think they make ’em like that anymore.
Q. What is the most unusual time, place or situation in which you have had a brilliant idea?
A. I was sitting in my dorm room with my girlfriend in college and I convinced her to marry me. That’s probably the best idea I’ve ever had.
Q. What promise do you make to yourself that you break the most often?
A. To lose weight. And more recently, learning video and video editing, which I need to do as the world moves away from the printed word toward the visual image.
Q. Who is the one person living or dead with who you would most like to have a beer (or coffee, in your case)?
A. Abraham Lincoln, to see which of the books are true.
*Photo by Aaron Salcido.