Jerome Ludwig calms the people around him. It is no small gift. Nichiren Buddhism calms him. “There are believing Buddhists and practicing Buddhists,” he told me the other day. “I’m a practicing Buddhist.” He reads the Lotus Sutra daily and is a familiar face in the South Loop center of the Soka Gakkai International, a lay Buddhist movement. In his 14 years at the Reader he was hands-down the most centered person in the joint, though he assures me that he was not always so.
Jerome began as a copyreader in the twilight years of the Reader‘s long era of plenty; he leaves this week as managing editor of a transformed paper. He’s seen the Reader through every difficult change of owner and publisher, through bankruptcy, and through this year’s transition from the plain brick building on Illinois Street that the Reader bought, gutted, transformed, and moved into in 1983 to the eerie splendor of the Sun-Times Media suite in the Apparel Center, where the staff has felt a little like pampered houseguests who wonder each night if in the morning the charming owner will lead them down into the basement laboratory to be experimented on.