Paul Reyes is the OA's former editor-at-large and a National Magazine Award finalist. He is the author of Exiles in Eden: Life Among the Ruins of Florida's Great Recession.
From the Winter 2005 issue.
It’s been said that more has been written about Muhammad Ali than about Abraham Lincoln, Jesus Christ, and Napoleon, a claim that’s difficult to prove, but which suggests a truth: the media dedicated to Ali—books, articles, photographs, films, music, and various ephemera—is staggering.
The architect Louis Kahn once said that even a brick aspires to be a part of something greater than itself, and the idea is a nice one if you appreciate the transcendental power of architecture, how a building can tap into the sublime. And sure, some bricks might have humbler aspirations than others—a grocery store, say, instead of Monticello—while others, still, are perfectly satisfied with their essence, just as some men are obstinately content. But after a century or so of taking a beating, humble or proud, any brick is going to require at least a little attention. No radical metamorphosis, just a tending to what already is, a scrubbing off of the crud that conceals an original integrity.