Philadelphia Metropolis

July 2011 Archives

Atop the White Tower

The first time I walked into the Inquirer building was in 1970 when I was a Temple student working the summer as an intern at the paper.  To say it was grungy is to be kind.  The paper's owner,... (Comments)

Rhubarb and Bingo

By Alaina Mabaso» "Do you suppose those are free for the taking?" my great-aunt Doreen asks, gathering the dozen eighteen-inch rhubarb stalks someone left beneath the retirement home's mailboxes. She immediately faces a problem: with her arms full of rhubarb, she can't push her walker into the dining room. Why would a 91-year-old who subsists mainly on eggs, orange juice, coffee yogurt, bananas and soup want an armful of rhubarb in her six-foot kitchen? It may go back to the same thing which my mother claims compels her to hoard leftover soy sauce packets."I was raised by Depression-era parents!" Mom says, as she squeezes the packets' contents into the soy sauce bottle. (Comments)

Creating the New City: Part Four

By Ada Kulesza» We continue our series on young Philadelphians who are making a difference with three profiles -- an eco-activist who has floated down the Susquehanna River on a homemade raft; two refugees from the move industry working with the homeless to make films; a hypnotherapist spreading the gospel of how going into a trance can help heal. (Comments)

Creating the New City: Part Three

By Ada Kulesza» We continue our Cover Story series on young Philadelphians who are making a difference with profiles of a young entrepreneur with new ideas on ways to get kids to love education -- through partying; an illegal immigrant who is working to hep other undocumented residents; and an energetic woman who heads a network of young professionals. (Comments)

Creating the New City: Part Two

By Ada Kulesza» Our series on young Philadelphians continues with profiles of Zoe Selzer of the business incubator Green Village; the videographers and multi-media artists who comprise Media Giraffes and a Texas transplant named Lloyd Emelle, also known as 'The Computer Genius." (Comments)

Pension Strangulation

The fundamental problem with Philadelphia's pension fund for city employees is that it doesn't have enough money to pay pensions to all today and in the future who will collect them. The fund has $4.9 billion on hand, not... (Comments)

Falling Through the Cracks

By Kathleen Skirkie» He asked me to be on time when I set up the appointment, and to call for instructions on how to enter his home when I arrived. I thought: How did he know I was perpetually late? Why couldn't I just knock loudly on the door like I had been trained to do at every other client's home? I told him I would be there at 2 p.m. I was new to my job and wanted to be on time. I did got a little lost on the way to his ancient home in Mount Airy, but somehow managed to park in front of his house with one minute to spare. I followed his orders and called, feeling his eyes on me from the third-story window. He answered, and instructed me to lift a small soiled flowerpot on the creaky wooden porch to find a key. His home was dark, damp and desolate. It was (Comments)

The Cardinal Forgets

I got a queasy feeling reading details of Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua's testimony in 2003 before what would turn out to be the first of two grand juries investigating cases of priest sex abuse in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. It wasn't... (Comments)

Being an Adult

By Jody Bowden» Being an adult with a capital "A" is hard. But, I had settled into that role, albeit begrudgingly, over the past 10 years or so. Along with my husband, we budgeted, found stable decent-paying jobs, paid off student loans, paid taxes, and acted like grown-ups most of the time. Buying a house, getting married, first baby, second baby, third baby, selling our first house and buying our second (bigger) house, getting a dog... Yes, we were adults. Life had a predictable pace; never a dull moment with three kids in the house, but things were good. Still, nothing in my adulthood could have prepared me for hearing the words "you have cancer" when I was just 35 years old. It was one of those moments that become frozen in time, (Comments)

Doctors Behaving Badly

By Tracy R. Franklin» The physical exam went much as I thought it would. I'd been this route before, after all, and I knew that no matter how painful it was to walk or how clumsy I was at home, I could manage five steps across a doctor's office just fine. I was perfectly able to tell hot from cold, sharp from dull, and my reflexes always fell within acceptable ranges. I looked completely normal on the outside; aside from a limp I'd developed in the past year; there was no visual evidence of muscle spasticity. I knew, however, that my muscles were constantly continuing to tighten and would not relax. I felt as if an invisible and ever-tightening drawstring was running through all the muscle groups of my body (Comments)

Workhorse or Showhorse?

When I heard the Pope had replaced Cardinal Rigali with a man described as a "pro-life warrior," who doesn't cotton to homosexuals and is known for his blunt lectures on faith and morals, I thought: Wow! The Pope just... (Comments)

Exploit and Escape?

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Creating the New City: Part One

By Ada Kulesza» This is a story about lovers. It's no love story; rather, it is a story about people who love a city they have inherited, an ancient place founded by Quakers and built by Revolutionaries. Pockets of that old world are still scattered around Philadelphia, but the men who first built it wouldn't recognize it. Philadelphia is the bone yard of the Industrial Revolution. The ruins of extinct businesses stand like empty monuments to an economy that's gone. But, many of the young people living here today see beauty in its post-industrial shell. Look inside and you'll see people working, slowly, to create the city's new eco (Comments)

My Mutter Moments

By Kathryn A. Kopple» In my teens, I suffered a grand mal seizure, an eruption that felt like the cranial version of Krakatoa. Later, in college, I awoke with a painful lump on my tailbone, near the cleft of my buttocks. It turned out of be a pilonidal cyst. The term "pilonidal," in Latin, means "a nest of hair," which is the common trait of these bizarre tumors. In 2001, an excruciating cramp on my right side sent me to the emergency room. Scans showed a growth of some sort, and with the ominous news that it might be ovarian cancer, I went under the knife. After the operation, my physician told me that I was lucky, as it turned out to be a dermoid cyst, a benign but freakish tumor that sprouts hair, bone, thyroid glands, teeth--you name it. More recently, in 2010, I woke to find a large bald spot on my scalp. The diagnosis: alopecia areata. A (Comments)

The Blacksmith Revival

By Stuart Geisler» I make a living buying and selling anvils, as well as being a professional blacksmith. The craft movement in America is making a come-back because of these tough economic times. People are fashioning their own hand-made goods to economize. Recycling old iron into functional objects is gaining popularity and profitability as people seek new and unique ways to increase their income. I used to show many pictures of myself blacksmithing in my shop 25 years ago, and people were always curious about the craft, so I started working again in my shop and studying the history of what I thought was a dying craft. Suddenly, people started asking me for lessons in this ancient craft, and how to acquire tools of the trade. (Comments)

Republicans in Cars

I did a double take the other day when I read that Gov. Corbett's Transportation Advisory Committee was due to issue its report on August 1. I said to myself: I thought we already had a Transportation Advisory Committee and... (Comments)

Skateboard Outlaws

By Dan Dorr» I've been skateboarding in Philadelphia my entire life - from City Hall and Love Park, to the grittiest of North Philly blocks, jumping from the foundations of demolished buildings. To be a good skateboarder in Philadelphia you need nerves of steel, whether your dealing with cracks in the sidewalks the size of small canyons or over-zealous security guards throwing you on the ground. This is also why there are so many skater-built spots in this city. (Comments)

A Mother's Love

By Karen Kleinkurt» I was sorting socks today to put them away and couldn't figure out which ones were my 10-year-old son's and which were my husband's. Suddenly, I had a flashback to the day my oldest son was born. I could see the doctor hold him up for me to see, just as clearly as if I were back in that labor and delivery room again. My first thought was "He's smaller than I thought he would be and why is he grey?" He was grey because the cord was wrapped twice around his neck. As soon as they unwrapped it, he pinked right up. I then started to think of the day my youngest was born. I actually watched him being delivered. When I am in labor and start to "push" I get really into my body and everything else just falls away. I remember the nurse saying "Karen - look down". They had turned him so he was facing me and I watched them pull him out. (Comments)

Leaving on A Jet Plane

By Robin Lentz Worgan» In the Philadelphia Airport, on the way to visit my parents in Florida, we sit by the window awaiting our plane. Young mothers come by with toddlers. Three preschool-age boys play hide and seek and remind me of my son, silly and loving at that age, now 15 and mute, save for asking for food. Nearby, a mom lifts her shirt to breastfeed her baby and I cannot help but stare. I envy the lost feeling of having someone so close that you can hear their heartbeat, so attached to you and dependent on your every move. When they call our flight number, we line up to get on the plane. Since Southwest Airlines does not provide seat assignments, I quickly realize that we have a low number, which means we will board the plane last. I walk up to the front with my (Comments)

Failure to Engage

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Searching for My Six-Word Memoir

By Jessica H. Turner» For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn. Legend has it that Hemingway was bet he couldn't write a story in six words, and the above line is what he wrote down. This story that is the basis of website SMITH Magazine's collection of six-word memoirs. SMITH asked its readers to tell the story of their lives in six words, and many of these responses were compiled into books, like Not Quite What I Was Planning and its sequel It All Changed In An Instant. I was first introduced to the series by my mother. I enveloped myself with the memoirs, ranging from a nine-year-old cancer survivor's testimony (Cursed with cancer. Blessed with friends.) to the musings of Stephen Colbert (Well, I thought it was funny.). I started to think of (Comments)

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