Lew came to Princeton from St. Mark’s School of Texas, where he was basketball team captain, senior class president, and school newspaper editor. At Princeton he majored in English, ate at Colonial Club, was news director of WPRB, edited the Nassau Lit, chaired Arts at Princeton, and served on the editorial board of The Daily Princetonian. After graduation he earned a master’s degree from the University of Buffalo.
Lew was author of a dozen books and recordings of poetry, as well as Birth of the Cool, a cultural history of the concept of coolness. A contributing editor of L.A. Weekly, he also contributed regularly to Rolling Stone, Men’s Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and Los Angeles magazine.
Best known for his extraordinary work in restoring and protecting the Los Angeles River, he was founder and president of Friends of the Los Angeles River, mentoring generations of activists in that cause. His work is commemorated by a seven-foot concrete monument with renderings of Lew in his trademark porkpie hat, situated in the renamed Lewis MacAdams Riverfront Park.
The class extends its condolences to his companion, Sissy Boyd; daughter Natalia; sons Ocean, Will, and Torii; brother Alan; and sister Kathy.