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Dean Franklin Gilliam Jr.: His best ideas come to him in the shower

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                                                                                                                                       Photo by Aaron Salcido
Franklin D. Gilliam Jr., dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, recently responded to a few quirky questions in the informality of Zocalo's green room before participating in a panel last month on why Angelenos don't vote. His research focuses on strategic communications, public policy, electoral politics, and racial and ethnic politics.
Q: Who or what do you root for?
A: I root for excellence in anything — in food, music, art, scholarship, advocacy. Last night, we [the Luskin School of Public Affairs] had an event with Marian Wright Edelman [president of the Children's Defense Fund]. There were some young people there who are in re-entry programs. I was rooting for them. They're trying to put their lives back together, and it's an uphill struggle.
Q: What word or phrase do you use most often?
A: Janky.
Q: What do you eat for breakfast?
A: A banana and, if I get real lucky, I'll stop at the café on 19th Street for an organic peanut butter bar. It gets me to my office. But it's not what I want. I want risotto carbonara — risotto with bacon and peas and a fried egg on top — from the Blu Jam Café. 
Q: What's the last habit you tried to kick?
A: I maintain all my vices. I'v never consciously tried to kick anything — except maybe overeating. Not smoking cigars. A lot people would be happy if I did. I haven't thought about quitting seriously. My family thinks about it seriously.
Q: What's hanging on your walls?
A: Art from Cuba. We got this piece in Havana a few years ago. It's in the dining room. It's of a person — with bold, dynamic colors.
Q: What keeps you up at night?
A: Nothing actually keeps me up at night. Things worry me when I wake up! We're always trying to make the school better, to think of creative ways to do more with less, to find more resources.
Q: What's the last election you didn't vote in?
A: Well I didn't vote in the last mayoral election because I can't: I live in an unincorporated area of L.A. County. I didn't vote on Tuesday for a special election of my assembly district — it was a foregone conclusion. Of course, there's the "minimum regret model.": You have maximum regret if your preferred candidate loses by a minimum of one vote.
Q: Where do you come up with your best ideas?
A: In the shower. Routinely, daily. My staff knows they'll get a call pretty soon after I get out. Not that the ideas are any good, but I have them. It's a lot like rap music: 95 percent are awful and 5 percent are good.
Q: What's your favorite (somewhat) hidden spot in Los Angeles?
A: There's a place called Orleans & York, which is a relatively new Louisiana/New Orleans-style deli with po'boy sandwiches. It's in Windsor Hill. I order the shrimp traditional ... but not often. It's not good for me.
Q: Who is the one person living or dead that you'd love to have dinner with?
A: Prince. He's a genius. I'm interested in his creative process and how he works.
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