The Solomon Scandals
The D.C. newspaper novel, the media,the Washington area, tech and other surrealism: David Rothman at large

- Search results for charles e. smith -

The Charles E. Smith family built the giant Crystal City complex near Ronald Reagan National Airport and donated hundreds of millions to good causes, most of them probably in and near Washington. Names from the family went on the Charles E. Smith Athletic Center at George Washington University, the Robert H. Smith School of Business […]

“The commonest axiom of history is that every generation revolts against its fathers and makes friends with its grandfathers.” So wrote Lewis Mumford, a deity in fields ranging from urban studies to architectural and art criticism. And that’s the epigraph at the front of Conversations with Papa Charlie: A Memory of Charles E. Smith, by […]

“Google neighbors”—is there such a thing? Perhaps. The Solomon Scandals Web site uses the words “David Bruce Smith” only once. He’s simply the son of the late Robert H. Smith and the grandson of Charles E. Smith, the builder whose life partly inspired my novel. A rather tenuous connection in many respects. But some Googlers […]

Why all the old jokes about unlucky newspaper people being condemned to the obituary desk? I can understand when the job is simply one of mere hackery. But the best obituaries are like polished feature stories. Fascinated by the genre, I even began The Solomon Scandals with an obit mention. Not everyone makes the news […]

How did the sprawling Crystal City complex, near Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, get its name? In the 1960s, developer Robert H. Smith dressed up his first apartment building there with a chandelier in the lobby, and soon the name spread to other Smith properties. It was, as I see it, a perfect example of […]

Update, 2:05 p.m., Dec. 31, 2009: Just-posted commentary on the Washington Post’s less-than-complete obit of Robert Smith. – D.R. Robert H. Smith, a Washington philanthropist and developer, died yesterday, and the Washington Business Journal already has run his obituary, with another coming shortly from the Washington Post. He will be most remembered for the Crystal […]

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David Rothman grew up in Alexandria, Virginia, on the outer fringes of the D.C. elite—a future Watergater lived almost next door. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he worked as a reporter for the Journal in Lorain, Ohio, where he covered poverty and public housing and was a feature writer. […]

From ABC News Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, a multimillionaire benefactor of John Edwards, slipped him hundreds of thousands of dollars without the Federal Election Commission being the wiser. The alleged goal was to spare not just Edwards but also his presidential campaign from the public-relations Chernobyl that would result if the world learned of his secret […]

The Schmidoffs’ windmill burned down in 1908 in Lipnick, Russia. An upshot was a real estate empire half a planet away, including Crystal City, the huge office and residential complex across the highway from Reagan National Airport. How did it happen? A rabbi saw the fire and other events as signs for the Schmidoffs to […]

Housekeeping: The review of Conversations with Papa Charlie, the David Bruce Smith book, about his grandfather, Charles E. Smith, may come Monday rather than today. Stay tuned for a write-up on a new Georgetown newspaper. – D.R. Newest update, Jan. 11, 2010: Perhaps as late as Thursday. Simply a matter of my schedule. I’d rather […]

Sy Solomon, the real estate millionaire in The Solomon Scandals, never existed. Like many of the characters in my novel, he is a composite. The late Charles E. Smith, however, the founder of the construction company of the same name, would have been the most like Solomon. He and associates controlled at least $150 million […]

Sen. Abraham Ribicoff, the late Connecticut senator who also served in President John F. Kennedy’s cabinet, secretly held a $20,000 investment in a GSA-leased building that the CIA moved into. My story for States News Service, reproduced below, appeared in the New Haven Register on May 29, 1975, and later made the NBC Nightly News. […]

Bio

David Rothman grew up in Alexandria, Virginia, on the outer fringes of the D.C. elite—a future Watergater lived almost next door. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he worked as a reporter for the Journal in Lorain, Ohio, where he covered poverty and public housing and was a feature writer. […]

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I’m amused by all this talk about uninvited White House guests: the polo-playing vintner and his blonde, sari-clad wife who crashed the State Dinner for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India. Party crashing and social climbing are old traditions in D.C., a city where the celebrated can be so empty headed that there isn’t always […]

Scandals at one level is a beach read, a mix of a thriller and novel of manners. But at another, it’s about bureaucratic laxness, which can kill workers—not just drain investors’ bank accounts. The Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico makes Scandals all the more timely. Penny-pinching proved to be lethal. – D.R. […]

In my little overview of D.C. fiction, I quoted Jeffrey Charis-Carlson, a specialist in this area: "It takes a great novel to make bureaucracy interesting." But how about writing about individual bureaucrats? That’s what I did with the love interest of Jonathan Stone, my reporter protagonist in The Solomon Scandals. Margo Danielson is a young […]

A friend and I had just seen a movie with a soft-spoken and obscenity-free editor, a balding Boy Scout of the city room. Now she wondered if my novel hadn’t sinned in making such a wild character out of George McWilliams, editor at the fictitious Washington Telegram. Her message couldn’t have been clearer. Ben Bradlee, […]

Blame The Solomon Scandals on my lack of ESP. Oh, to have read the minds of the people whose lives and deeds helped inspire the novel! Just why did the late Sen. Abraham Ribicoff end up in the 1960s with a $20,000 investment in a building that the CIA moved into? What were Ribicoff and […]