The Digital Journalist
Remembering Eddie Adams
October 2004

by Richard Pyle

One thing about Eddie Adams: Hang out with him and you meet interesting people.

People who eat glass, for example.

Based in Tokyo back in 1980, I was on temporary assignment in South Korea and ran into Eddie, who was on assignment for Time or Parade. We had some spare time, which we used for a trip to Itae-won, the market area that dealt in bargains, from tailored suits to Korean chests, all at pre-Olympics prices.

Visiting one of the shops that specialized in items made from melted-down artillery brass, Eddie suggested we order some AP belt buckles for gifts. Together we designed the buckle, and left the order to be picked up later.

By then it was lunchtime, so we went to a Seoul hotel where Eddie was to meet Bill Garrett, the National Geographic photo editor who also was in town. Garrett was there with a friend, a Korean whose name I don't recall, but who will be forever memorable.

This guy was a martial-arts type, whose regimen of self-discipline included eating glass. Being news-trained skeptics, we challenged him to show us.

At his request, a waiter brought a new drinking glass to the table. The guy took a bite out of the rim - snap! - then proceeded to eat the whole glass - crunch, crunch, crunch - like celery. He chewed it into small pieces, then helpfully showed us a mouthful of glass shards before spitting them, bloodlessly, into a napkin.

The noise, of course, attracted other diners. As memorable as the glass-eater was the expression on the faces of the western tourists at the next table.

But I don't recall that Eddie ever raised his camera. I guess maybe he'd already seen everything.

© Richard Pyle