Interview with Brad Monash
A Conversation with Brad Monash, Associate Clinical Professor
Your CV shows that you are a member of Physicians for Human Rights and Physicians for Social Responsibility. Can you tell me more about your socio-political philosophy?
My whole decision to go into medicine was driven by my desire to impact social action. I am a member of Doctors for Obama and marginally engage in various activities. I am always sending letters and emails to state reps and government officials, standing up for the causes that I champion and hold near and dear.
I believe that in the past you volunteered considerable time towards helping children at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and Covenant House in Philadelphia, and now spend some of your clinical time caring for children. What entices you to a career in Pediatrics?
I’ve always loved people and I connect easily with children. There’s a playfulness of spirit, a truth and a lack of the layers and complexities that people develop as they get older. Children show you what they’ve got. No matter the ages, from toddlers to adolescents, I’ve always enjoyed youthfulness. In the hospital, I like to be silly, play with the kids, roll around on the floor, and act goofy. In quintessential med-peds form, I connect with people across age groups from infants to geriatrics. I find it challenging and rewarding that if you can impact someone in adolescence, then you can impact them for the rest of their lives.
Do you have any creative hobbies? Performing arts perhaps?
Not strictly speaking unless you count comedy routines at summer camp. I am a very gifted lip-syncher; I can lip-synch with the best of them! My favorite is probably George Thorogood’s Bad to the Bone. I dabble in acoustic guitar; growing up in summer camp, you learn to play around the campfire things like Cats in the Cradle, Jack and Diane, and some Indigo Girls. I don’t sing well other than in the shower where the acoustics are right!
What is the most un-medical publication for which you’ve written?
I was published in Gentleman’s Quarterly (GQ) on How to Cure a Hangover, a very, very, very short piece at the bottom of a page called “Ask an Expert.” I studied literature in college and like writing, and am interested in writing reflective essays. One of my interests was poetry so I’ve also dabbled in that as well.
From where does the surname, Monash, originate? What do you know about your family history?
I was raised thinking that it was Hungarian as my ancestors were from Eastern Europe but my family is from Russia and Romania. My father’s father was Casofsky but it was shortened to Cass at Ellis Island. Then a gentleman named Monash, who was not a blood relative but a very close family friend, adopted him. All of my grandparents were born in Detroit so it would have been my great-great or great grandparents who came from Europe.
You were married earlier this year, were you not? Have you a favorite anecdote about your special day?
We have two special dates, so we have two anniversaries to remember. Our first ceremony was a civil ceremony in Boston in September, a very small family event. The second celebratory ceremony was in Scottsdale, Arizona in May. We had a couple of hundred people and it was wonderful. We had a mariachi band playing the hora and my parents were hoisted up in the chairs, then my wife’s parents were whisked up. They didn’t speak any English and, after the initial looks of terror, this was overcome and her father was blowing kisses to everyone. It was spectacular having our families and friends together and it is those little moments that I remember most.
Which artist or band is most played on your iPod? What type of music do you not want to admit listening to?
My iPod is always on shuffle. I love music and I own a tremendous variety of genres. I think the album most played is the Buena Vista Social Club. I am up on most of the Top 40 and know most of the lyrics to Britney although I wouldn’t want to admit to that publicly. My least favorite type of music is angry music, like death metal or Alanis Morisette when she’s po’d. I can’t listen to very angry music.
What is the best thing you ever ate and where can we get it?
I’m one of these eat-to-live people but I married a live-to-eat person. To answer the question: my wife’s cooking! Nearby, I discovered salted caramel ice cream at the Bi-Rite Creamery in the Mission. It’s incredible; it’s delicious! We were just in Mexico this past week and I was eating from taco carts.
The fish tacos were amazing—so delicious and just melt in your mouth.
When you were a kid, what was the one gift that you wanted in the worst way, and did you receive it?
To this day, I’m embarrassed because I don’t like asking for things but when I was a kid, I kept asking for a bubble hockey game, USA vs. Russia. I loved bubble hockey and ultimately I did get it and got pretty good at it. I thought it would be a family heirloom but one day I came home from college and found it had been given away as a gift to someone who did a favor for my family—my father gaveth and he tooketh away!
Where will you be on New Year’s Eve? What’s your favorite champagne or cocktail?
One of my close childhood friends is getting married on New Year’s Day in Florida, and the rehearsal dinner is on New Year’s Eve, so it will be ideal to spend New Year’s with my wife. Tons and tons of my real close childhood friends are all going to be together. I don’t know enough about champagne, so just cheap champagne. I’m not a major drinker—I drink a lot of juice! But I also like Dark & Stormies—rum and ginger beer over ice.
What is one extraordinary feat that you would like to accomplish in 2011?
Maybe to be asked to come back in 2012! I’d like to try to publish something, maybe non-medical. I’d like to leave an impact. I’ve been watching CNN Heroes, a show about everyday people who do incredible things. I’d like to get involved with a major project that would really impact the world. I need to figure out how to schedule things and make time for everything that I’d like to do.
Thank you, Brad. This has been my pleasure.
- by Oralia Schatzman