Editor's Note

Big Mo

By Tim Whitaker
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Apr. 30, 2008

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As noted in PW and other places last week, Lopez, a Los Angeles Times columnist who worked at the Inquirer for 11 years, had come to town to promote his new book The Soloist.

In The Soloist Lopez writes about his friendship on L.A.'s skid row with a destitute man, a Juilliard-trained musician and former classmate of Yo-Yo Ma. Lopez first got to know the man by writing columns about him for the Los Angeles Times. The columns morphed into a book, and now The Soloist is being made into a film starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx. Which is pretty sweet.

But part of what makes those of us who remember Lopez from his days in Philadelphia continue to miss him so much is his fearless candor.

When PW writer G.W. Miller III asked Lopez about Sam Zell, the profane and disquieting newspaper owner who issues his paycheck, Lopez didn't blink: "People are kind of shell-shocked and baffled by what he might be up to."

And about the collective mindset of his remaining friends at the Inquirer: "Everybody's frustrated. Everybody's disappointed. Everybody's hoping for a way for things to turn around. Most newspaper people are just too damn busy to worry about it. That's a blessing."

Finally, good news for those who worship at the altar of long-form journalism: Going Deep, an anthology of writer Gary Smith's best writing for Sports Illustrated, will soon be released in book form.

For many, Smith's infrequent epic-length pieces for SI on a wide range of topics--from George Foreman to Pat Tillman and a young Crow basketball player looking to escape the reservation--are considered treasured literary jewels.

Smith, a La Salle graduate, writes only about four pieces a year for SI, and is given thousands of words to tell his tales. None of the thousands of words ever resembles a sports cliche.

Smith recently told The Wall Street Journal's Marketwatch that he prefers reading fiction and philosophy to sports journalism.

"It fascinates me, what makes a person tick," he said. "It's the contradiction, the paradox. In ambiguity, there is a goldmine. There is a lot of tension involved."

And then he said this: "Life for every human being is a problem that has to be solved."

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