There's something to be said for bitter old curmudgeonly types like Jordan Smith. Smith was my first editor at The Daily Pennsylvanian, and he was a relentless prick.
Well, at least he wanted everyone to think that he was a relentless prick.
He once fired a girl from the (volunteer) sports staff and smiled when she cried about it.
A friend of mine on the staff always put two spaces after periods, in violation of DP style. Smith used the find/change tool on the computer to find out how many double-spaces he had to change to single-spaces. It was 32.
"Thirty-two times. Thirty-two fucking times!" he shouted at the poor nervous freshman sitting next to him. "How many times do I have to tell you this stuff?"
Smith edited the very first article I ever wrote. It was a recap of a men's golf tournament. It was very bad and very short. I even got team captain Adam Bradshaw's name wrong. In the first sentence, I call him Andy.
The night the article ran, I got a phone call. It was Smith.
"Is this Brian Hindo?"
"Don't get names wrong for us again."
Although Jordan "Half-Pint" Smith wasn't a big guy -- I'm generously calling him 5'6", 130 pounds -- he had this way of peering at you through his eyeglasses that made you feel infinitely tinier then him.
He had a keen regard for the tradition that came with being a sports editor-- not for Penn sports, but for DP Sports.
In fact, he once said that he didn't give a damn about the Penn football team's chances to win a title in 1997, but he couldn't wait to hype it up in the sports section all week.
His devoted obsession (to something I freely admit is meaningless to most besides the DP staff and a few curious athletes) was admirable.
And it produced in him a hyperbolic sense of accountability that, for this freshman reporter, was the best gift of all.
He made perfection a prerequisite. He demanded more, and he got more. I don't think it's any wonder so many seniors have stuck with this for four years.
We were willing to put up with Smith's shit because we knew he knew his shit.
I specifically asked Smith not to put me on wrestling. So Smith handed me the wrestling beat, and after the other two writers on the beat quit, I was stuck with it, for better or worse.
It turned out I liked covering the wrestling team so much that I stuck with it for two more years. I even eschewed the glamour beat, men's basketball, simply because I found covering wrestling so rewarding.
I guess the man knew something. After all, his e-mail address was sosa@sas. Being a lifelong Cubs fan myself, I asked him in the fall of 1997 why the hell he'd picked the name of an overpaid, second-rate right fielder as his e-mail address.
He assured me that Sammy Sosa was worth every penny the Cubs paid him.
The next summer Sosa chased Mark McGwire and history into the record books with 66 home runs.
The last I heard, Smith was working as a paralegal in Center City.
But I'm afraid he's somehow going to see this. I'm afraid because I'm still haunted by his "last words" as a member of the sports staff.
He ended his senior column saying, "Young writers... if you think you are just plugging away, filling space,' you are in the wrong place, because I and 100 years of DP Sports are out there somewhere, counting on you to do better."
I won't be surprised if I return home to find a message on the machine -- "Hindo, you got it all wrong again."Comments powered by Disqus
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