Philadelphia Metropolis

November 2011 Archives

Desperate for Work

Best of VoxPop» The ad on Craigslist was for a High Roller Host in Atlantic City. Having worked a seemingly endless string of dead-end jobs, I was drawn to the flashy job title "High Roller Host" -- that and the extremely lucrative salary offered. I applied on my lunch break and before the end of the workday that day, a man named Steven with a slight speech impediment, which I later discovered to be an accent, called to conduct a phone interview. Afterward, he asked if I could come to Atlantic City for an interview right away. Surprised at my luck, I told him I could. That was the beginning of the madness. (Comments)

No Second Act

They say there are no second acts in American lives and that seems especially true of the Occupy Wall Street movement and its local manifestation. In fact, the local protest seems even more askew, at least in its symbolism.  Occupy... (Comments)

The Battle of Point Breeze

Welcome to Point Breeze, where old and new residents are fighting over the future of the neighborhood --sometimes literally. In a clash dominated by race and class, change means pain for long-time residents who are working to stop development. Reporter Ryan Briggs examines life in this South Philadelphia neighborhood with an in-depth report from the front lines. (Comments)

Changing a Lightbulb

Best of VoxPop» I'm not planning on drinking a cyanide smoothie or anything, but when you have no work, your soul seems to shrivel. As a self-employed contractor, the fundamental assumption is that I have to rely on myself. But as my "self" seems to implode, so does my reality. There is nothing left to lean on, so I slowly fall down. I scour Craigslist for jobs and gigs and check Chester County papers for warehouse work or anything to bring in money. I do a few pushups and examine my hairline in the mirror. I pat my soft belly. I recheck construction proposals for typos and wonder if (Comments)

The Battle of Point Breeze: Part II

There is a touch of espionage when it comes to people in Point Breeze talking about their neighborhood. Everyone uses code words. Property developers and their supporters aren't building to make money, they're "revitalizing a community." Opposition to development is guised as a fear of "rising property values", instead of a fear of racial change. (Comments)

Philadelphia in the Nude

Best of VoxPop» I'm not afraid to get naked. I needed spare cash, so I sold my body - to art. When I moved to Philly, I had no contacts; just my wits and mounting expenses. Posing nude for artists was on my bucket list anyway, just under eating a fried Oreo and above sky diving. At least I could get paid for this. I called a few places, and soon found myself sitting in on the Sketch Club's Saturday open session as an observer. My comfort with nudity I'd discovered trolling along the coast of Sydney, Australia. My friends and I got onto the sand, and were confronted with a beach littered with naked breasts, like sunny-side up eggs frying under the fierce sun. We looked at them, looked at each other, and burst out laughing. It was only a matter of time before the first of us deftly (Comments)

A Significant Effect

What's happening at Olney High School this year could have a significant and widespread effect on urban public education. Hired by the district to take over one of the worst high schools in the city, the Latino educational group Aspira... (Comments)

The Case of the Crumbling Shoes

Best of VoxPop» On Christmas Eve day, as I was getting out of the car, I noticed an odd-looking thing on the ground: an oval plastic pillowy thing a little smaller than a credit card. It turned out to be the inner heel cushion from the Nike boots I was wearing. They looked fine when I put them on in the morning, but now the heel had separated into a top slice and a bottom, spitting out the air cushion that had been imprisoned inside. An hour or so later, the other heel started flapping and disgorged its cushion. Next, the front of one sole started flapping like a clown shoe. All day, everywhere I went, I left a Hansel-and-Gretel-like trail of black crumbles as the bottoms of my shoes continued to disintegrate. (Comments)

In Defense of Mike McQueary

Am I the only person in America who is not surprised or outraged by how Penn State assistant Mike McQueary reacted after he witnessed Jerry Sandusky allegedly raping a 10-year-old boy in the showers at the school in the now... (Comments)

The Perfect Prom Tie

Best of VoxPop» Did you ever want to strangle a man with a necktie? The man in question is actually only the torso of a man made of plastic, but wrapped around his neck is the last tie of a particular color and pattern -- yellow with small white checks. It looks like a picnic tablecloth with an identity crisis, but the woman bouncing impatiently next to me has...got....to...have....it!. I struggle. I wrestle. Dust rises around us as I scuffle with the plastic man. Finally, I raise the unknotted tie above my head and declare victory. After all, it's part of my job as a clerk at Macy's Springfield to get the customer what she wants, when she wants it. (Comments)

Takeover at Olney High

Olney High School was a troubled school: plagued with suspensions, fights, chronic absenteeism and dismal performance in math and reading. Then, the school district asked the Latino educational group Aspira to take over the school this year with a goal of turning a failure into a success story. Reporter Connie Langland has spent weeks at Olney and offers this special report from the front lines. (Comments)

Part Two: Takeover at Olney High

Could Olney High become a model for high school turnarounds? With its emphasis on discpline, with intense oversight of teachers, and with a program that puts troublesome students in special classes, Olney may have found a formula that works. Connie Langland reports from Olney in the second part of this special Cover Story. (Comments)

TastyKakes and Tofu

Best of VoxPop» My foray into veganism started in September when I sat down to watch Oprah reruns and put off looking for a job. Alicia Silverstone was on promoting her new book about eating like a vegan called The Kind Diet, and I sat up and listened to what she had to say. After a summer of drinking, eating mostly slices of pepperoni pizza and cheesesteaks and bar hopping down the shore, any book with the word Diet in it made me pay attention because of the 10 pounds I had gainedaround the hip and ass region. When I thought "diet guru," the name Alicia Silverstone didn't exactly leap mind. I related her (Comments)

The Last Hurrah

Tuesday's election is probably the last time we will see Michael Nutter's name on a ballot for public office. The mayor will be 58 when his second term ends.  The City Charter limits him to two consecutive terms.  I don't... (Comments)

The Hipster Commandments

Best of VoxPop» As South Philadelphia native, I am annoyed at how my neighbors have handled the influx of hipsters moving into our neighborhood. I wouldn't use the word "hate" or even "dislike." Overwhelmed is more accurate, so great has the influx been. My neighborhood, which is just off East Passyunk Avenue, was once a place of close-knit relationships among neighbors, with families who have lived here for generations. Now, it feels like we have been invaded by aliens. Many of my neighborhood favorites - the thrift stores, bars, coffee shops and restaurants - have become a study in beards and plaid. (Comments)

Answer to No. 7: City Government

The needle has barely moved on city government spending. The general fund, which pays for most government operations, was $3.452 billion 2008, the mayor's first year in office.  This year, it is $3.473 billion, an increase of less than one-half... (Comments)

Election 2011: Seven Trends That Are Changing Philadelphia

When Michael Nutter is elected to a second term Tuesday, he will face trends that could change the city's future. In this Metropolis Spcial Report, Senior Editor Tom Ferrick examines in detail the state of the city under Nutter and the outlook for his second term. (Comments)

Why I Hate Cats

Best of VoxPop» Flash alert: there's a social epidemic spreading in the City of Brotherly Love. No, not flash mobs. You can stop tweeting about that. Cats. That's right. Kitties. I've made my dislike of these glorified rodents very apparent in the past few years, yet every. Single. Friend. Of mine. Has gotten not one, but two cats. "One will get lonely," they say, or "but they're so cute." Skinny jeans and heels are cute. Reading Twilight in our 20s is cute. Young women between the ages of 20 and 23 investing in a pet that will potentially live for the next two decades is not cute. Yet so many of my friends are following this trend, as if they don't realize--or care about--the commitment. (Comments)

The Best of VoxPop

Metropolis marks its second anniversary in December and we've decided to celebrate by bringing you the best of VoxPop. Twice a week for the last two years, we have been offering essays, written by readers, about life and its foibles. They are engaging, witty, sad, insightful, sometimes laugh-out-loud pieces that usually center on life in the big city that is Philadelphia. VoxPop comes from the old Latin saying: Vox populi, vox dei. The voice of the people is the voice of God. We've selected more than a dozen essays that have proven to be the most popular with our readers -- our populi. We hope you enjoy them. -- Tom Ferrick, Senior Editor (Comments)

Is That All There Is?

The planners at the Philadelphia School District labored mightily and produced a mouse with the school closing/consolidation list released Wednesday (Nov. 2).  As Peggy Lee would put it, the plan had an "Is That All There Is?" quality to... (Comments)

Vincent's Lament

It's hard to keep a megalomaniac down, or at least quiet. Witness the emails that emanated from former state Sen. Vince Fumo from his prison in Kentucky, railing against the feds, the media, his former loyalists, comparing himself to "Caesar... (Comments)

The Philadelphian

By Dalyn Montgomery» I start each morning by arguing with a four year old about whether or not her dress makes her look like a tomato. The dress is blue. I don't understand the argument so I usually lose. Next we drop Tomato's older sister off at school. Doing this consists of first parking illegally by a fire hydrant, a risk made necessary because the school buses take up all the curb space. With the flashers on we abandon the car and join the screaming children and chatting parents in the school yard. It is one of those rubberized school yards that make you feel a little like Neil Armstrong as you bounce past the monkey bars and slides. I only partially pay attention as the loosely uniformed kids line up by class and grade, I'm looking for the parents I think of as friends. They are the ones I have three-minute conversations with at eight in the (Comments)

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