Elmer Smith author of Out of My Mind: Humor and Humanity ($16 August Press)
Out of My Mind by Elmer Smith is a look inside the head of a humorous and wise Philadelphia writer. For three decades Smith has covered politics then sports, specifically boxing in the city of “Rocky” and Joe Frazier fame and Smith has written about interesting people, famous and not so famous. The philosophy that underlies his approach: How can anyone observe the human condition without doubling over in laughter? We are a silly species caught in absurd situations.
For the past 14 years, Smith wrote columns in the sports section of the Philadelphia Daily News, then became an editorial and metro columnist. Writing columns, says Smith, “is not about consensus. If you try to do this job by thrusting a wet finger into the air to see which way the wind is blowing, it will blow right by you. “The ones who do it best can wade into the most complex morass and emerge with a simple truth. Truth is always simple.”
For humor, read “No point in dad hitting the roof, since kids already landed on it,” Smith’s recollection of his daughter and her future husband crash landing a small plane in Florida. In “Fame (minus 14 minutes, 56 seconds),” Smith is humbled after his fleeting appearance in one of the “Rocky” movies.
For inspiration, read “No answer at roll call: It was the trying that defined Hank Gathers’ life, a tribute to a late Philadelphia schoolboy basketball star. Smith writes about barbershops, poolrooms and soul food and also about being an eyewitness to history in visiting Nelson Mandela shortly after his prison release, or covering Bill Clinton, or Betty and Qubilah Shabazz.
Elmer Smith’s big city journalism career has spanned 30 years. He has been with the Philadelphia Daily News since 1982. He is a panelist on “Daily News Live,” a Comcast Cable TV sports show. Smith’s newspaper career began at the Philadelphia Bulletin.He has won national awards including the Nat Fleisher Award, the highest award of the Boxing Writers Association of America and a National Headliners Award and American Red Cross Service Medal. Smith is a product of Philadelphia public schools and Temple University, where he has been an adjunct professor of journalism. He is also a member of the William Monroe Trotter Group.
The humor and passion of Out of My Mind is uniquely complemented with illustrations by Signe WiIkinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist and Smith’s colleague at the Philadelphia Daily News.