Matthew Kahn, a UCLA Luskin Scholar and author of Climatopolis: How Our Cities Will Thrive in the Hotter Future, has lived in three major American cities: Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. But, he said, he grew up a suburban kid. “I was getting beat up in the public schools of New York City, so we moved to Westchester.” Below, Kahn reveals more about himself.
Q. Where would we find you at 10 a.m. on a typical Saturday?
A. Walking to Westwood village to find bread and do our chores.
Q. What music have you listened to today?
A. I like the White Stripes. And when I want to fire myself up I listen to Soundgarden. I’m cooler than my students think I am.
Q. What do you consider to be the greatest simple pleasure?
A. Talking economics with my wife. She’s an economist at UCLA and we met in graduate school. As nerdy as that is, it’s the truth.
Q. What surprises you most about your life right now?
A. Watching our nine-year-old son grow up. I’ve gotten a second childhood. I was worried about getting fat and bald and time moving too fast, but watching him has helped me go back.
Q. Who was your childhood hero?
A. Reggie Jackson of the Yankees.
Q. What do you wish you had the nerve to do?
A. I have some graduate students who are surfers. I think I would drown if I tried, but I wish I could surf the way they do out in Malibu. My father quotes Clint Eastwood – a man has to know his limitations – so I’ve been afraid of doing it.
Q. Who is your favorite fictional character?
A. It’s horrible, but I’ll say the Mayor of Atlanta in Tom Wolfe’s A Man in Full.
Q. What is your favorite cocktail?
A. The strawberry margaritas at Acapulco.
Q. When do you feel most creative?
A. After several cups of coffee.
Q. If you could take only one more journey, where would you go?
A. I just went to China. I’d want to see more of China’s cities.
Q. What is your most prized material possession?
A. I like our Westwood house, but the bank mainly owns that. So there really isn’t anything. I could walk away from all of it.
Q. Who is the one person living or dead you would most like to meet for dinner?
A. I’d like to go out again with my full set of grandparents.
To read more about Kahn’s talk on climate change, cities, and capitalism, click here.
*Photo by Sarah Rivera.