Joe Sharkey has written “On the Road,” the weekly business-travel column in the New York Times, for 14 years. He is also the author of five books, four non-fiction and a novel. Two of the books are in development, by Paramount Pictures, and by Bold Films, as movies.
Before his association with the Times, Joe was an assistant national editor and a reporter with the Wall Street Journal. Before that, he was a reporter, editor and columnist with newspapers in Philadelphia, and the executive city editor of the Albany (N.Y.) Times-Union. He is now at work on a new novel and a screenplay.
A Vietnam veteran and a native of Philadelphia, he is married to Nancy Sharkey, a former senior editor for the New York Times who is now a professor at the University of Arizona. They are both avid equestrians, and live on the border of Saguaro National Park in Tucson, where they are volunteer mounted National Park Rangers. They have a horse and two parrots, one of whom never stops talking. (The parrot, that is).
Q: Describe your earliest memory of volunteering to serve your community. About how old would you have been?
A: 9 or 10, Boy Scouts, scrap metal collections.
Q: Why did you join Social Venture Partners?
A: My wife Nancy and I really, really like the people, and thanks to them are enthusiastically motivated. Plus we really, really like Tucson and would like to have some kind of positive effect.
Q: What was the best piece of advice you ever received? From whom?
A: #1: “Be prepared.” -Boy Scouts of America. #2: “De gustibus non est disputandum.”
Q: As a frequent traveler, what do you never leave home without?
A: My sense of humor.
Q: Have you ever met a celebrity or public figure? Tell about the experience.
A: Frequently, as a reporter for 40+ years. Some examples: Weirdest: Mel Gibson, hands down. Nicest: Lily Tomlin. Most Beautiful: Rania, queen of Jordan. Most Dumb: Tom Cruise. But the oddest experience was at a Hollywood dinner sitting next to June Lockhart, who had played the mother on “Lassie” in the 1950s, and who was in early stages of dementia at the time of this dinner. We had a grand old conversation, but June kept calling me “Timmy” and talking about the fun we used to have. Darryl Hannah, sitting on the other side, then went along with it. Afterward, June’s daughter thanked us profusely for showing her mother a grand evening.
Q: If I could go to any concert right now, it would be __.
A: The next time EmmyLou Harris sings anywhere, but I’ll also happily settle for Rene Fleming doing great coloratura arias
Q: My ideal night on the town in Tucson would include…
A: Barbeque in our backyard with friends, sitting by a fire pit as the sunset colors the mountains
Q: What did you like most about living in New York?
A: The fact that as a flâneur, you can walk and walk and walk in New York and never run out of city.
Q: Life in the desert is ____________________.
A: Physically energizing and stimulating; visually breathtaking.
Q: What is your ideal way to spend a day off from work?
A: On a horse in the desert with my wife.