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

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 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 […]

Good news: Editor & Publisher, the bible of the newspaper business, is back from the dead and will be published by Duncan McIntosh. Mark Fitzgerald, an E&P veteran, is the new top editor. Online reporting has resumed, and a February issue will appear. Duncan McIntosh is  a boating magazine publisher—it also organizes boat shows. Separately […]

The review of Conversations with Papa Charlie is still set for this week—most likely Thursday or Friday—along with some related observations on charity, one of the topics of the book. I wanted to run it earlier but was unavoidably delayed. Memo to self: Remember the Jefferson quote. At least from afar, it would appear 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 […]

“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 […]

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 […]