Philadelphia Metropolis

April 2011 Archives

Make the World Go Away

What motivated the fire fighters union and District Council 33 to endorse Milton Street? In a regular piece I do for the Fels Institute of Government at Penn, I parse the motives and meaning of the union endorsements, saying it pushes... (Comments)

My Visit to the Race Street Psychic

By Ada Kulesza» Americans spend about $55 billion on psychiatric therapy and medication each year. When darkness plagues our souls, when friends and family can't help, we reach out to professionals. Which is why I went to a psychic. The sign said $10 for a psychic consultation. Could this be the counsel my poor, battered soul sought? I had a single, burning question. I wrestled with my problem in wretched solitude. I needed help from the universe, I needed solace from the divine. Her door on Race Street was locked; a sign said to call. I phoned and left a voicemail. Half an hour later she called back. (Comments)

Saving the Mastodon

It is heresy to ask this, but should the Philadelphia Orchestra cease to exist? There is strong evidence that it can no longer be sustained as a business enterprise, even with millions in support its gets each year from its... (Comments)

The Mother Tongue

By Robert Corry» There's this game we have played, my three year old and I. It goes like this: he asks for something to drink, and pretending not to understand what he's saying, I don't give it to him. He repeats his request, gesturing towards the sink with a red plastic cup, and I again feign confusion, because while I know he wants water, he's saying wooder, which, as you may have noticed, is how it's pronounced around here. After a few rounds, he'll try whining. This goes nowhere, but instead of dissolving into a puddle of frustration, he changes tactics and asks again, only this time he opens with Please may I have some (pause), Daddy? (Comments)

Bring on the Pom Poms

Paul Davies office at The Inquirer is empty these days, and will remain so for the foreseeable future.  Earlier this month, Davies, the deputy editor of the editorial page, was fired by Publisher Greg Osberg, though the paper's management would... (Comments)

Life Means Life

For a convicted murderer, Haywood Fennell is a heck of a nice guy. He's charming, polite and -- by most accounts -- a model inmate at Graterford Prison, where he is serving a life sentence for his role in the... (Comments)

The Ballad of Red Dog

Haywood Fennell is one of the 5,000-plus prisoners in Pennsylvania serving life terms for murder. "Red Dog," as he is called, has been in prison since he was 17. He is 60 today. In this special Cover Story, Metropolis tells his life story in graphic novel form. It is a joint project of Metropolis and the City Paper, supported by a grant from J-Lab, the Institute for Interactive Journalism, and the William Penn Foundation. The story was reported by Tom Ferrick Jr. and Jacob Lambert and illustrated by Lambert. It begins on the fateful night in 1968 on a dark street in North Philadelphia... (Comments)

How I Learned I Am Not a Saint

By Rosella Eleanor LaFevre » On July 27, 2010, after a night of very little shut-eye -- as 5 a.m. approached, I awoke and after that, couldn't sleep a wink -- I accompanied my father to a surgical checkup at Jeanes Hospital. Five years before, bladder cancer had kicked his ass. Now, the cancer was back and this checkup, the second within a month's time, was to see just how bad it was. The hospital staff let me see Dad when he got back from the initial recovery room. He shook and his face was a grayish pink, like hamburger left sitting in the grocery store for too long. There was a catheter in his penis with a bag to collect urine strapped to his leg. I felt my chest constrict with fear. The doctor took a good deal of tissue, Dad said. (Comments)

Hollywood Takes Philadelphia

By Jonathan Stutzman» Multiple $15,000 lights shine down onto the pavement below, bathing countless PA's, grips, sound crew, and gaffers, in enough light to mimic daytime. Five miles of street are blocked off with squad cars, caution tape, cones, and cops. Portable heaters keep crew and million-dollar stars snug and toasty against the winter's midnight chill. Amidst all the Hollywood grandeur there's me, the director, controlling the film-- and by amidst, I meant about 20 blocks away. Unfortunately, the set I was "controlling" wasn't the set of the big-budget action/thriller Safe, starring Jason Stratham and Ben Foster, a big-budget film shot in Philly. They had the million dollar equipment, the Hollywood A-listers, and the Kraft services. They had the traffic control, the police presence, and the portable heaters (ahh, portable heaters). Hollywood had invaded the East Coast. (Comments)

Man of the People

I was in City Hall the other day reading over the ethics disclosures of various candidates for public office in this May's Primary Election.  It was a dreary chore, thumbing through mundane one- or two-page filings that listed income and... (Comments)

Rearranging Day

By Brian McKenna» We call it Rearranging Day. It's like moving day without a moving truck. It's a day you decide everything in your home needs to be somewhere else. That desk would look so much better over in that corner. The room would look nicer if the bed was parallel to the wall, not perpendicular to it. What if the T.V. was higher? My girlfriend and I rearrange our apartment about once every three months. Why we do this, we don't know for certain. Maybe we aren't the same people we were when we put the bed next to the window. It could be that we've had a rough week and doing some physical labor helps lower our stress levels. Perhaps it just gives us something to do when we're bored. (Comments)

Death Calls

By Kessa Baylor» I never paid attention to the number of people who die each day in Philadelphia and its surrounding counties until I began working as a funeral home answering service representative. I would start my day with a quick stop to a local Dunkin Donuts for a cup of hot chocolate, and then drive up Baltimore Pike half awake and half numb to the job I would need to perform. Like a robot I would walk to my desk and log on to the computer system. I would wave to a few co-workers or say a dry hello or good morning. Then, just like clock work my line would begin to ring: a crying mother who lost her only son to suicide, a coroner who needed the undertaker to meet him at a home or, in many (Comments)

The Price of Four Aces

Philadelphians love their Phillies and its time to praise the guy most responsible for making this franchise so successful. John Street. That is not a misprint. It was Street as a new mayor who made the deal to build new... (Comments)

The Nuns Still Work

By Mike Mallowe» The priest sex scandals have created lasting wounds for the Catholic Church and the Philadelphia Archdiocese. But there is still one group of religious people who remain free of the taint of scandal: nuns. Though aging and dwindling in numbers, nuns continue to serve important roles as educators, caregivers and social activists. So why are they under investigation by the Vatican? Reporter Mike Mallowe offers this appreciation of American nuns and offers an update on their status and their mission in the region. (Comments)

The Last Generation

By Mike Mallowe» This aging generation of nuns may be among the greatest, but it is also among the last. The same demographic implosion that is facing male clerics in the Catholic Church in America is facing women of faith as well. There are fewer and fewer women taking their vows as members of religious orders. What looked like a pyramid 30 years ago, with most nuns working in the field and a relative handful retired, now resembles an inverted pyramid and the point -- comprised of young nuns -- keeps narrowing. Mike Mallowe discussed the realities of this trend in Part Two of our Cover Story in nuns in Philadelphia (Comments)

My So-Called Home Office

By Elrena Evans» I didn't claim a home office. I downloaded all the forms from the IRS when I started preparing my taxes, and according to IRS Tax Tip 2008-53, the language defining a home office is pretty clear: "You can claim this deduction for the business use of a part of your home only if you use that part of your home regularly and exclusively as your principal place of business." But the reality of the situation is that I don't use my home office "regularly and exclusively" as my "principal place of business." The reality of the situation is that I work from home while caring for my two preschool-aged children, blending my work life with caring for my family. (Comments)

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