Kenneth Wells is a psychiatrist at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Public Health, and a senior scientist at RAND. Before participating in a UCLA / Zócalo panel discussion about the problem of homelessness in cities, he talked in the Zócalo Green Room about playing pool as a kid, thinking about a grant proposal during an organ performance, and meeting his wife while working on a cadaver in medical school.
What’s your favorite holiday?
New Year’s Eve.
What was the last meal you ordered?
You grew up in a musical Baptist family. What about gospel music moves you?
I was the one in the family moved more by classical music than gospel music. It was the passion—the marriage of idea, text, and music.
Do you find writing music helps you as a psychiatrist, or vice versa?
The operas I write are about the kind of issues I work on as a psychiatrist. The opera I’m putting on this year is about schizophrenia.
If you had to live outside of Los Angeles, where would you go?
San Francisco. My wife is in love with SF.
Do you watch any trashy television?
My wife and I are watching The Good Wife. That’s sort of in between.
Is it true you met your wife while you were both working on a cadaver in medical school?
We were in anatomy. It was a required first-year class. She was talking about a book I didn’t like and she loved, so we got in a heated disagreement.
If you could take up a new sport tomorrow, which would you choose?
I actually might want to return to a sport of my youth, which was pool. My dad used to have a pool table.
Where in Los Angeles would you take someone who has never been to the city?
Most people want to go to beach. I like the Malibu beaches.
When’s the last time you got nervous before going on a stage?
Sunday. I was substitute organist at my church. I was only somewhat nervous at first, but then I suddenly started thinking about a grant I’m preparing to submit.