Talks with Tim is a weekly Q&A by Tim Grobaty, who has been a columnist in Long Beach for nearly 50 years. If you’d like to suggest an interesting or influential person in Long Beach for this (unconventional) interview, reach him at [email protected].

Long Beach City Manager Tom Modica has worked for the city since 2002, when he was hired as a management assistant. In his years with the city, Tom has served in a number of roles, including assistant to the city manager, government affairs manager, director of government affairs and strategic initiatives, deputy city manager and acting director of development services.

Tim Grobaty: As promised, I’ll try to keep this light. But seriously, what’s on your Spotify playlist?

Tom Modica: My daughter and I share our Spotify. I used it for podcasts, “A Brief History of…”  and one called “Revisionist History,” with Malcolm Gladwell. Then with my kids [he has 13-year-old twins, a son and a daughter] I’m introducing them to older music of the 1980s, now 1990s and 2000s. Classic rock up to punk rock.

Q: Were you into the punk scene?

A: No, but I just think they should know about it.

Q: Cultural literacy.

A: Yep.

Q: You live over in the Plaza in my neighborhood…

A: Technically, my neighborhood is called Carson Park. The Plaza is farther north.

Q: How do you like living there?

A: It’s a wonderful neighborhood. We’ve lived there since 2008. The kids were born in 2009. We moved here from Belmont Shore, so it was quite a difference. The thing I like about it is there are so many ways to get to work Downtown from my house, so I can check out different parts of the city while commuting. I can take Carson up through Bixby Knolls. I can take the Diagonal up through the Traffic Circle, or Spring Street up to Pacific and across.

Q: Where were you before you came to Long Beach?

A: Tucson, where I was born.

Q: That’s a good place to be from. What is it, about 230 degrees there now?

A: I don’t mind the heat. One of the reasons I came to Long Beach was for warm weather, but when I got here it was pretty cool.

Q: How do you kill time during the council meetings on Tuesday night? Do you play Donkey Kong or Candy Crush on your phone?

A: No, no Candy Crush. I’m taking notes, listening to what the council members and the public are saying; sometimes you’ve gotta do a couple of emails. Sometimes you might see me typing, and that’s me taking notes.

Q: What’d you do before coming to Long Beach?

A: I worked for Tucson doing rec programs in high school and college. It was a good experience. I was running sites of 120 kids and supervising other rec employees who were twice my age as well as dealing with parents and their issues.

Q: All helpful skills to know in your current job dealing with the council.

A: Yep.

Q: What’s on your bookstand? What do you read?

A: I read a lot of city memos and council business. In my spare time I’m reading about the Nazi-era U.S. Ambassador to Germany, “In the Garden of Beasts.” Before that, my kids are into reading books and they made me read the “Eragon” series.

Q. Lemme ask you this: Where do you do your grocery shopping? And I’ll preface this by the fact that Ralphs on the Diagonal was pretty handy for us and I liked their pharmacy. And we used to like Pavilions when it was fancy, but now it’s a Vons presumably because it was determined that Vons was a better fit for Long Beach than Pavilions. Do you take that as an insult?

A: I heard that too. There are so many high-quality stores in East Long Beach, now there’s Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Gelson’s. I’m more of a Trader Joe’s guy myself.

Q: What does your wife do?

A: Stefanie does a lot of volunteer work in the city. She does a lot of volunteering at the animal shelter.

Q: Do you two talk shop at cocktail hour?

A: She’s sort of interested in my work, but mostly we talk about the kids,vacation and daily life. She’s pretty civic minded, but we separate home life and work life.

Q: What do you do for fun?

A: We do a lot together. I like to cook, we like to travel and camp. We always take our dogs. We have a 50-pound Staffordshire terrier, an 80-pound female mastiff and a 100-pound male mastiff. We got them all from the shelter.

Q: What are you watching on TV?

A: I recently got really into “Ted Lasso.” It’s funny and well written, with great leadership tips and kindness. Its message is “work hard and be kind.”

Tim Grobaty is a columnist and the Opinions Editor for the Long Beach Post. You can reach him at 562-714-2116, email [email protected], @grobaty on Twitter and Grobaty on Facebook.