Gazette senior editor Samuel Hughes is not normally of two minds about having his work featured on the cover (what writer is?), but he hesitated over “Insidious ARDS,” on Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, a vicious lung disease that attacks 150,000 people in hospital intensive care units annually, killing about 50,000 and leaving many more with disabilities. Sam—who learned about ARDS when it struck a relative and later discovered that Penn is a leader in fighting it—thought the subject might be just too dark and depressing.
I wondered about that, too, at first. Regular readers will know that we’re not all about feel-good stories here at the Gazette, but besides the devastating impact the syndrome can have on its victims, the story from the angle of research and treatment is also in large part one of frustration.
In the end, though, the spirit and strength of the patients and families who have come through the ordeal of ARDS and who shared their stories with Sam, and the determined, caring commitment of the medical professionals at Penn and the alumni working at other hospitals who spoke with him, make this, if not a feel-good story then nevertheless an inspiring one, of endurance, dedication, and precious—however incremental—victories against an implacable foe.
Also in this issue:
Early on, success in their chosen field eluded the songwriting duo of Jay Livingston C’37 and Ray Evans W’36, but they eventually broke through definitively with the Oscar-winning “Buttons and Bows” in 1949. The occasion for Ben Yagoda G’91’s “Good, Bad or Otherwise, Keep Writing and Peddling” (advice they received in their lean years) is the recent donation of Ray Evans’ papers and other memorabilia to the Penn Libraries. As Ben writes, this treasure trove of materials encompassing the team’s career “provides an unprecedented window into what, precisely, it was like to seek and attain a career as an American songwriter in the middle third of the 20th century.”
James Martin W’82 parlayed his Wharton degree into a fast-track executive position at GE—and years of job dissatisfaction and anxiety-related stomach problems. That all changed when he figured out he was really meant to be a Jesuit priest. Two decades later, Rev. James Martin, SJ, is a bestselling author; the culture editor of the Catholic national weekly, America; and a go-to source for media outlets like the BBC, Washington Post, and The New York Times—not to mention Comedy Central. In “Bless Me, Father, For I Have Published,” freelancer Alyson Krueger C’07 traces his pilgrimage from the corporate world to the Society of Jesus to official Chaplain of the Colbert Nation.
It took Jim Martin six years after graduation to follow his destiny, but Steven Markowitz W’10 had only been working at Google for four months when he rolled the dice on a full-time music career as hip hop artist Hoodie Allen. As Joel Siegel writes in “When Steven Met Hoodie,” Markowitz has combined savvy social networking, his Wharton marketing skills, and a musical style that is “sunny, exuberant, anthemic, and fun,” to lay the groundwork for his alter ego to become a breakout star.
His songs have been downloaded (free) hundreds of thousands of times, and millions have watched him on YouTube. He’ll soon find out whether people will pay for his music, when he releases eight new songs on iTunes in April and launches his biggest tour so far. Stay tuned.
Also in the to be continued … category is the answer to the question raised in Dave Zeitlin C’03’s story, “Can Some Quakers Save the Sixers?” about a group of alumni in the ownership group that bought Philadelphia’s troubled NBA franchise this fall. They may be crazy—as many of their friends and family, apparently, told them—but as of this writing, things are looking pretty good.
—John Prendergast C’80