voxpop: Philadelphia Metropolis
After three years on the web, Metropolis has ceased operations. The reason is simple: We ran out of money. This always was a shoestring operation and the string finally broke. We depended on support solely from local foundations and others interested in public affairs journalism. Our audience was small -- our latest count was 22,000 unique visitors a month -- but we attracted a solid corps of readers who cared about issues in Philadelphia and its neighborhoods. We tried our best to bring them our best analysis and in-depth journalism. With VoxPop, we also brought them a multitude of voices with personal essays about life, love and the human comedy. We thank all of our contributors and our loyal audience.
The site will remain open for several months so people can have access to our archives.
By Joe Trinkle»
It was about a month ago, while I was sitting in a small coffee shop that I frequent on South Street, when the girl behind the counter, Lauren, finally got the nerve to ask me about all the books and flashcards I carry with me.
"Hey, can I ask you something?"
"Sure," I said, incorrectly expecting upon those words, as many men do, a romantic query.
"Why do you carry around all of those books? You don't seem like a student?"
I laughed in the way I do to show people I'm uncomfortable. And then I said, "No, not right now. But I am studying, I suppose."
"Oh, cool. Are you learning a language or something? It's just that, you know, you come in here a pretty regularly and a few of us, the baristas, have tried to figure out what you're studying. But you always have all these different books stacked up on the table. It's funny."
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It is no coincidence that I now live only a few blocks from Independence Hall. When I was a toddler, I was determined to do everything by myself, so my grandfather dubbed me the Declaration of Independence. The name still suits me. To appreciate this, you need to know that I am legally blind. That means that I have minimal sight in one eye and none in the other, and no depth perception. While I can get around without the assistance of either a guide dog or a white cane, I can't read street signs or facial expressions, and I hold printed matter inches from my eyes to read it. You will be relieved to learn that the state of Pennsylvania, in its wisdom, will not grant me a driver's license.
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Remember Steve Martin's line when people asked if he would mind them smoking? He smiled politely and replied: "Mind if I fart?" Today, though smoking is banned in most public places, no one would bother to ask permission to fart; they would just break wind. That's because private is the new public.
Functions, which used to be performed in homes, beauty salons, doctor's offices and even bathrooms, have now become spectator sports. Nowhere is this more obvious than on public transportation where people are crammed together like galley slaves for the duration of their trip. When I lived in the Bronx and commuted to Manhattan on the subways, people were content to read their newspapers or books in relative silence. Occasionally, I encountered a groper, a loud talker or a nose picker or an annoying straphanger who hung too close to a seated commuter. These days, no matter what form of public transportation I take, someone sitting next to me is either eating something incredibly stinky from a
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got off the train this morning and started walking towards my first class at Temple University, but something in one of the upper floors of a building caught my eye and my heart began racing. My mind plays tricks on me. Though I knew it to be completely absurd, my brain still said that there was a sniper up there, and that I should move to a safe place.
I didn't, and that's an improvement. A year ago I may have run to a street corner and ducked down behind it. If a car backfires I am liable to do the same thing. It's frustrating for me.
It's frustrating that something I worked so hard to be good at won't go away.
I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I was diagnosed with it in July, 2008,