September 19, 2017

Sam Smith's biography

 Sam Smith

· Is a writer, activist and social critic who has been at the forefront of new ideas and new politics for more than five decades. He has been editing alternative publications since 1964, longer than almost anyone in the country.

· Is the author of four highly acclaimed books, including Why Bother?: Getting a Life in a Locked Down Land, which was an Utne Reader staff pick and was selected by Working Assets as one of its books of the month.

· Is an award-winning alternative journalist and editor of The Progressive Review.

· Has helped to start 6 organizations. Was one of the organizers of the Association of State Green Parties - forerunner of the national Green Party - and, in the 1970s, was a co-founder of the DC Statehood Party, which held public office for more than two decades. He also hosted in 1992 one of the first meetings starting the modern ranked choice voting movement.

· Is the author of Sam Smith's Great American Political Repair Manual published by WW Norton in America and Europe and excerpted in Utne Reader. His Shadows of Hope: A Freethinker's Guide to Politics in the Time of Clinton (1994) won cross-ideological praise. The book was the first to raise serious questions about Clinton's character and political intentions. In May 1992 the Review had become the first publication in America to connect the pieces of the puzzle that would become known as the Clinton scandals. Its coverage of these scandals was among the most thorough to be found anywhere.

· Wrote Captive Capital: Colonial Life in Modern Washington, published in 1974, which is still cited as an authority on the local city.

· Has been published in a number of anthologies including Media & Democracy (1996), You Are Being Lied To (2001), Censored 2000 (2001), 50 Reasons Not to Vote for Bush (2004), and Quest: Reading the World and Arguing for Change (2006)

· One of his essays, An Apology to Young Americans, was turned into a musical number by Yale associate professor of music John Halle and has  been performed in several cities.

· Has had articles published in the Washington Post, Washington Star, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, San Jose Mercury News, Planning Magazine, Illustrated London News, Washington World, Regardie's Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Harper's, Washington Monthly, Washington Tribune, Washington City Paper, Nashville Scene, Washington History, Designer/Builder, Progressive Populist, North Coast Express, Yes!, Potomac Review, London Time Out, Counterpunch, Green Horizon Quarterly and Utne Reader.

Selected in 2009 as a New Media Hero by the staff of the Alternet news service.

· Is a native Washingtonian who covered his first Washington story in 1957 as a 19-year-old radio news reporter for WWDC and an early national radio news service, Deadline Washington.

- Has served on the board of the Fund for Constitutional Government, Commercial Alert, the DC United Black Fund, Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, Project on Government Oversight, and the DC NAACP Police & Justice Task Force

· Was American correspondent for the Illustrated London News.

· Has been a radio newsman and a guest commentator on radio and television. For five years he appeared weekly television, and later radio, panels otherwise comprised of black journalists. Has appeared on over 1000 radio and TV talk shows from NPR to the O'Reilly Factor

· The arts section of his DC Gazette that he created included the work of Tom Shales (later TV critic for the Washington Post), Roland Freeman (later a nationally recognized photographer), and Patricia Griffith (later president of the Pen-Faulkner Foundation). In the mid-seventies, the arts section was spun off as a separate publication, the Washington Review, which lasted 25 years and won a number of awards.

· The DC Gazette early published a number of writers and cartoonists who later became far more widely known including Tony Auth, David Barry and Bill Griffith. The Gazette also published what was then the only urban planning comic strip in America as well as the first column by a prison inmate to appear in a non-penal publication.

· Was a leading journalistic voice against the Washington Post-backed plan to build miles of freeways that would have made DC look like an east coast Los Angeles.

· Was the first writer to call for DC statehood and explain how it could be achieved without a constitutional amendment. Also advocated urban statehood for largest metro areas.

. In the early 1970s became one of the first publications to support a revival of light rail and other alternatives to hyper-expensive and inefficient subway systems.

·Was an early advocate of bikeways.

- Has been a vigorous opponent of destructive urban planning practices .

·Since the 1960s has been a critic of the punitive approach to drug addiction.

- Was a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s, assisting the then chair, Marion Barry, in medias relations.

· Wrote a 1990 article on the second S&L scandal -- the S&L bailout itself -- that was selected by Utne Reader as one of the top ten undercovered stories of past decade.

· Has been co-plaintiff in seven public interest law suits, three of them successful. Was a plaintiff in a suit against the president and Congress for denying democracy to the District of Columbia, which was ultimately rejected by the Supreme Court.

· Was elected as an advisory neighborhood commissioner in the Washington's first neighborhood elections.

· Served as home & school association president for a DC public elementary school.

· Was a founding member of the DC Communities Humanities Council, the local funding body of the National Endowment on the Humanities.

· Was operations officer and navigator aboard a Coast Guard cutter and later executive officer of the Baltimore Coast Guard reserve unit.

· Graduated from Harvard in 1959 with a major in anthropology. Was news director of Harvard radio station WHRB. Was elected station manager but couldn't serve due to academic probation. His class efforts had been slimmed thanks to his work at WHRB, as a member of the Harvard sailing team, a jazz drummer playing regular gigs, and jobs at the Harvard News Office and the Fund for Harvard College.

· Was a member of the Maine state crew in the New England men's sailing championship, 1956.

· Spent his teen years in Philadelphia. Attended Germantown Friends School and took part in his first political campaign at the age of 12. Started his first alternative publication, a family newspaper, when he was 13. Started the school's first jazz band, The Six Saints.

· For four decades was a semi-professional musician (first drums, then stride piano and vocals). He had his own group - the Decoland Band - for a number of years and was the co-composer of a musical revue. Decoland Band excerpt

· Is a member of the board (and formerly president) of the Wolfe's Neck Center, a community-based alternative agricultural environmental center which created the largest natural beef operation in the northeastern part of the country and now is deep into regenerative agriculture and training dairy interns.

· Was a co-owner and trustee of Philadelphia's classical music station, WFLN, for 14 years.

- Married to historian and author Kathryn Schneider Smith, who has written several books - most recently Washington At Home - and started Cultural Tourism DC.. She was formerly chair of the advisors to the National Trust for Historic Preservation and is now on the executive committee of the Maine State Historical Society. They have two sons.

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An alternative press icon if ever there was one -- NY Press

A truly independent journalist with his feet firmly grounded in the reality of neighborhoods and everyday people. -- Patrick Mazza, Progressive Populist

A larger than life presence in the nation's capital . . .A truly original voice in American journalism: humorous and plain spoken and filled with common sense -- Jay Walljasper, Utne Reader

Inimitable -- Mother Jones Magazine

Sam's a cynical cat -- Marion Barry

The Progressive Review has been a luxuriant jungle of old-school reporting and frenetic information exchange since before blogs were blogs, and before the the Internet was the Internet. Feels like visiting Bugs Raplin's apartment [in the movie Bob Roberts]. - Jason Zannon, Democracy In Action

One of the nation's leading visionaries. -- Charlie Spencer, Charlie Spencer Show

Notorious journalist -- Seattle Weekly

Washington has but a very few observers of the caliber, honesty and overall orneriness at the right times and places as Sam Smith -- Stephen Goode, Insight Magazine

Sam's one of the few independent voices left. The press today is either extreme or special interest or else just establishment, an extension of the corporate spirit -- Eugene McCarthy,

He has a wonderful combination of being absolutely realistic about the vagaries of people in political life while still being an idealist. -- Peter Edelman

One of a small group of whites with thom many blacks would trust their political lives - Chuck Stone, Washingtonian.

A reputation for wit, intelligence and anger. -- Claude Lewis, Chicago Tribune

A very good summary of a lot of items from a left perspective, but they are also interesting to our readers - Christopher Ruddy, editor of the conservative Newsmax

Smith is an island of reason and information in a sea of narcissistic blather. -- City Paper, Washington

[He's] no stranger to clamorous debate -- in fact, he's caused more than his share of it himself. -- Tom McNichols, Washington City Paper

Smith is an island of reason and information in a sea of narcissistic blather. -- City Paper, Washington

Capital curmudgeon -- Phyllis Richman, Washington Post Progressive Review

Whatever the debate, the Review's sharp critiques encourage us to look out our window, notice and act upon what we see, and also to look further -- to the rest of the country and globe -- to see how the organized big world interacts with our more spontaneous small worlds. - Utne Reader

Why Bother?

Why Bother, in a wonderfully engaging and erudite manner, addresses the great question confronting democracy, community and justice -- and that is civic motivation. Prepare to be motivated. Sam Smith is an antidote to mindless speed reading. He makes you pause between paragraphs in order to mull over the captivating morsels he is placing in your imagination. - RALPH NADER

Sam's book is a balm of solace and a kick in the pants - GARY RUSKIN, COMMERCIAL ALERT

An American original. . . He's got a big old cussed independent streak that keeps you guessing and hence keeps you reading. .. .Some of the things I love about this book: . . . .The plain-spoken way it puts forward even pretty difficult thoughts.. . .Above all, its useful intelligence. - COLUMNIST CRISPIN SARTWELL

Sam Smith puts it to us straight in these essays about finding meaning and hope - JAY WALJASPER, UTNE READER

Sam's book is a balm of solace and a kick in the pants - GARY RUSKIN, COMMERCIAL ALERT

Shadows of Hope

Lively, astute and powerful critique of the Clinton approach to our national crises. It raises profound questions about our two-party system as a corruption of the democratic ideal ---- Historian Howard Zinn

Even ideological critics will appreciate his role as an unaligned skeptic. In an age of sound bites and increasing political homogenization, "Shadows of Hope" is an encouraging sign that independent analysis is still alive. -- Michael Rust, Washingon Times

"[Compared with Agenda] Smith's book is by far the wiser and more useful and certainly the more entertaining of the two ... [Bob Woodward's] judgments, when he works up the energy to make any, are purely mundane. Smith, on the other hand, is turned on by politics ... .His saucy judgments remind one of the way H. L. Mencken handled presidential campaigns." -- Robert Sherrill, The Texas Observer.

Captive Capital 

Captive Capital could be an excellent gift for any friend just moving to town. Or any friend who has managed to live here for some time without learning anything about Washington ... One of the few efforts I have seen that manages to deal with black people and white people without insulting either, and without appearing to be written for one or the other. -- Bill Raspberry, Washington Post

Smith's analysis of the class dimensions in the community challenges the cliches and generalizations that most white writers stumble over. . . Altogether, the book presents a fascinating story of history-in-the-making. It is absolutely 'must' reading for all fwho are interested in this city's history, its political or private life, or the contributions and personal assets of both the black masses and the black leaders. -- James Tinney, Afro-American

Great American Political Repair Manual

Sam Smith has an authentic practical genius for national rescue. His book is a literal last chance for taking back our lost republic. - Roger Morris

There are two principal potential objectives in the making of public policy: one is self-interest, the other is the desire to help others. In the plainest language, and with lucid logic, Sam Smith shows us which applies where and, most importantly, he shows us how we can bring the two objectives together to help one another as we help ourselves. Keep going, Sam-- Mario Cuomo

Smith's book is a toolbox for hacking a corrupt system. It is also funny as hell . . . . There are butts that need kicking in this country . . . Sam Smith is handing out the boots. -- Alex Steffen, The Stranger, Seattle

Passionate yet humorous, honest and courageous, above all wise and inspiring . . . Combines an unrivaled sensibility about America's plight with an authentic practical genius for national rescue. This is an utterly unique, desperately necessary book, a literal last chance for taking back our lost republic. -- Roger Morris, author of Partners in Power

"Smith offers [a] community based, participatory politics that's neither left nor right wing but the whole bird. . . . His work is not different from what quality journalism ought to be: truth-seeking, independent, fair-minded and debunking." -- Colman McCarthy, Washington Post