Philadelphia Metropolis

September 2011 Archives

Why I Don't Drink

By Rich Rubin» I'm sitting with Christopher in our friendly local gayborhood bar. It's boring. He's had a kamikaze shot and moved on to a Bombay Sapphire and tonic, working on making that vanish while I nurse a diet Coke. He's starting to feel a little uncomfortable because he's spotted a certain ex-friend at the other end of the bar. I'm just praying the guy stays there. On top of that (or because of it), he's in the throes of a nicotine fit, so I sit with our drinks while he goes outside for a cigarette. As he walks out the front door, I see the identical emotions playing across the faces of every man sitting across the bar. It's like a movie scene. It's uniform, universal, and hilarious. (Comments)

The Minister of Enthusiasm

Over the summer, we ran a series called Creating the New City about a dozen artists, social activists, entrepreneurs, etc. in their 20's who are changing Philadelphia for the better.  I have a name to add to that list: Hunter... (Comments)

Drunk and Blind

The thing that tends to get overlooked in the whole Bob Archie-Dwight-Evans imbroglio is that the reason the district sought to make major changes at Martin Luther King High School was because its performance sucks. Despite the presence of Evans' darling,... (Comments)

My Life in Hell

By Chavon Simmons» Waking up, sun burning my eyes, head pounding. Trying to figure out why I feel like I've been hit by a bus. I will myself out of bed and as I walk into the bathroom I remember now. His fist pounding my flesh, foaming at the mouth curses, while his degrading words pierced my skin like knives. It hurts too much to cry so I suck it up and jump into the shower. I can't call out again or lose my job, so I get dressed and grab my sunglasses on my way out the door. The bus finally arrives so I sit back, put my headphones on and close my eyes. I remember my daughter screaming from the stairs looking helpless and afraid, yet so strong (Comments)

Where Did the Outside Go?

By Lynda C. Wharton» I came home a couple of days ago to find my 13-year-old daughter and my 11-year -old son just lying around in our family room. I asked them was something wrong? Everybody looked so melancholy. As any parent has heard a million times they gave a two-word response: "I'm bored." I joked with them about how I was sure they could keep themselves busy if they cleaned their rooms. Cleaning up could possibly take all day. My daughter cringed and looked away (you don't want to see her room), but, my son said: "Awww, mom. My room is good." Well, I said, its 75 degrees outside. The sun is high, the humidity is low, and it's a beautiful day. He still looked bummed. Apparently, he couldn't figure out if he had left some attachment to one of their game systems at their grandmother's house or lost it at ours. (Comments)

The Other Shoe Drops

The other shoe dropped at Philadelphia School District headquarters this week. With Arlene Ackerman gone, the folks responsible for hiring her fired themselves. Robert L. Archie Jr., chair of the School Reform Commission, announced he was stepping down.  His departure... (Comments)

Jason's Nocturne in Zzzz

By Traci Butterfield» There is really only one thing I ever miss about being single and living alone. Sleep. Plain and simple, eight solid hours of uninterrupted, restful sleep. Having the bed to myself and being able to spread out diagonally across the mattress, and hog all the blankets and pillows, and wake up on my own accord instead of to a blaring alarm clock on the weekends sounds like a little piece of heaven to me. And unless I lose my hearing (a sacrifice I'm not willing to make), break up with my boyfriend (which even to me seems a bit drastic) or embrace the 1950's sometimes-tradition of sleeping in separate bedrooms, my nights of peaceful sleep are a thing of the past. (Comments)

The New Flophouses: Part One

It is nighttime under the El in Kensington. Streetlamps cast a sickly orange light, creating a labyrinth of shadows between the steel support columns that line Kensington Avenue. The darkness brings out the desolation of this part of the neighborhood, with a few prostitutes and drug dealers trolling for customers amidst vacant lots and crumbling buildings. In the hostile territory of hardscrabble Kensington, thousands of drug addicted men and women--- some clawing towards recovery, others deep into dependency -- conduct a nightly search for a place to lay their heads. (Comments)

The New Flophouses: Part Two

By Ryan W. Briggs» We're standing near the fenced-off grass lot in Kensington that adjoins the clubhouse, used for barbecues and lectures by The Last Stop's mercurial owner "Eddie Z", short for Edward Zampitella. A Kensington native who never learned to read or write, Eddie is a 20-year recovering addict who styles himself as champion of men struggling free from the grip of addiction. His brand of recovery uses tough talk and violent imagery to remind addicts what they stand to lose with their habit. The side yard features a handmade plywood coffin, spray-painted black, with a mannequin inside. A crude, grim idol, the mannequin represents the fate of everyone at the clubhouse, if they start using again. (Comments)

I Try to Be Cynical...

As the malaprop-prone Gov. James Duff once told a reporter in Harrisburg: "There's nothing mysterical about the electrical college." But, it looks the Republicans intend to make it mysterical. Senate Republicans have suggested a do-over in the way we count... (Comments)

No Heaven, No Hell

By O.K. Pham» "Your children are lovely," the old stranger lady remarked at a community festival we attended last fall, her compliment a mere preface to this next question, "Do you take them to church?" Sensing an unsolicited sermon on the horizon, I gathered my brood for a swift but polite retreat: "No, but it's nice meeting you." Her unwelcome insistence beckoned as we meandered through the crowd, "It's not too late to teach the kids about our Savior!" For most of my adult life I've stayed clear of religious conversations, reluctant to debate a subject matter that I think is too personal. My own parents' marriage was compromised (Comments)

If I Had a Hammer

Three years ago, the School Reform Commission hired Arlene Ackerman to serve as the answer to this question: How can we improve the Philadelphia public schools? Instead, Ackerman ended up being the answer to another question: Can you name the... (Comments)

In the Shadow of the Towers

By Sean Breslin» On Sept. 11, 2001, I awoke on a couch to find my sister's college roommate flipping through the channels to find CNN to check out news about a plane crash in New York. She left the room to make coffee, and came back as Flight 175 slammed into the South Tower. That was the first time I ever felt truly fearful. I remember thinking that we were up against something unknown that thought nothing of killing us. I was in Denver when the attack happened, visiting my sister at college after a long road trip in my 1988 Honda Accord. My friends in South Jersey were taking bets on where I'd break down, and my father had offered to help pay for a plane ticket, worried about his (Comments)

Playing with ICE

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey's has a smart new plan to combat crime that puts police in closer contact with their communities -- walking the beat, getting familiar with the neighborhood. It makes sense, except in heavily Latino areas of town.... (Comments)

Making It Local: The New Food Economy

By Elise Vider» Philadelphia is becoming home to a new industry. Despite the recession, a crop of artisan food makers are setting up shop in the city, making everything from sauerkraut to premium chocolates. Philadelphia once known for making big things, such as ships and locomotives, is becoming known as the place where food entrepreneurs are making small, delicious things. Elise Vider writes about the emerging new food economy. (Comments)

A Rabbit's Tale

By Elise Seyfried» Lord help me, I've bonded. With a rabbit. Two months ago, my 16-year-old daughter Julie went to a rabbit rescue organization in Broomall called Luv N'Bunns and adopted Stoli, a fat and furry white bunny. She arrived home laden with bun plus a small fortune in accoutrements: cage and pen and food and hay and toys. We tried to change his name, as we can only assume he was originally named by a vodka lover. Charlie? Cute, but no cigar. Peter? Come on! Tibbar? My personal favorite, "rabbit" spelled backwards. In the end, Stoli he remained. (Comments)

Why My Mother Loves the Phils

By Nicole Del Casale» As I think back to the last time I sat in the crowded venue of Citizens Bank Park, I remember the pained expression on my mother's face as I screamed "goodbye!" over the tumultuous rumble of the excited fans. I had to leave the game in the bottom of the 7th in order to drive back to D.C. for a midnight shift. As I kissed my mother and ran up the concrete stairs, I smelled the air, savoring my last game of the season, the Phillies up 6-1 against the Giants, and saw my mom sadly turn away, confused that I could possibly leave at such an exciting moment in the game, but happy that the Phillies were dominating. (Comments)

Making It Local: Barriers to Success

By Elise Vider» Right now, it's just an ugly, long-vacant supermarket in West Philadelphia, a neighborhood eyesore. But if plans move forward as expected, 310 S. 48th Street will undergo a transformation into something that says more about where the city is going than where it's been. The Center for Culinary Enterprises is expected to open its doors next summer, billed "as (Comments)

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