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Though Metropolis has closed, Tom Ferrick will continue his Publius blog on the new site AxisPhilly.org. You can read his first columns there. The site also will use Metropolis content and writers in the future. Read more....

Metropolis Is Closed

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.

First War, Then Peace

Gov. Corbett presented his budget for the next fiscal year to a joint session of the Pennsylvania General Assembly with great pomp and fanfare.  The budget, which totals $28.4 billion, is enumerated in excruciating detail in a budget book equal in thickness to War and Peace. In reality, though, it...

His Guys, His Game

There are two possible explanations why nine judges on Philadelphia's Traffic Court allegedly engaged in widespread ticket fixing, outlined in great detail in indictments of handed down last week by a federal grand jury. One is that the judges, sitting around over coffee and donuts one day, decided amongst themselves...

Who Will Tie Their Shoes?

By the time I reach the coffee shop in Mt. Airy on Friday afternoon, I am exhausted. I've spent the past week administering band aids, untying shoelaces, retying shoelaces, chaperoning bathroom breaks and trying to convince one of my students--an unusually well-dressed five year old-- that dancing will help him feel better about the fact that his mother has left again. Technically, I'm a teaching artist at a preschool for low-income families in Germantown. But "creative movement" doesn't even begin to describe what goes on in my classroom. It's part Tchaikovsky indoctrination, part Michael Jackson impersonation, part therapy, part recess and part contact improv, the name I decided to give to my students' numerous collisions).

Life Between the Covers

There is a placard in my local library which bears a quote by Jorge Luis Borges. It reads "I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library". When I first strolled past these words on my way to Adult Non-Fiction, I had just moved to Philadelphia from the east coast of Australia and couldn't have felt more like a fish out of water. I'd made a decision to end my career as a lawyer and leave my family, my friends and the hometown in which I'd grown up to relocate to a country where I knew no one; to a new job, a new city and to surrender my life as I knew it to my first and only true love - my writing. Nothing was familiar. I didn't know the area, I was learning (and I use the tem loosely) how to drive on the right side of the road, my accent was a dead giveaway that I didn't belong, I hadn't made any friends, I hadn't written a thing since landing at JFK, I was

Blaming The Man

It's hard to play the race card in Philadelphia these days. It's hard to blame The Man when you are the man. But it's also hard to break old habits.  Witness the news conference held this week by opponents of the school district's plan to close 37 schools to save...

Taming Pac-Man

You've heard of the carrot and the stick?  It appears Gov. Corbett will be trying a variation on that tactic when it comes to taming the cost of public pensions.  Call it the stick and the stick. Corbett made clear last week that when he presents his new budget proposal...

Riding Their Bikes

There are two kinds of bicyclists in South Philadelphia. If you think I am over-generalizing, go to the corner of Ninth St. and Washington Ave. and try to find a third variety. You'll be standing there a long while. Let's call the first kind -- my kind --the South Philly Cyclists. Let's call the second kind the Passyunk Pedalers. These names aren't terribly descriptive, but what's the point to life if there's no alliteration? We South Philly Cyclists are new to the neighborhood. We are interlopers. We are the educated types, or the creative ones, or occasionally even both. We are young, or despite appearances we pretend to be. We are female as often as male, but uniformly white. By

Unintended Consequences

There's an interesting back story to the visit of Gov. Corbett to Philadelphia last week to tout the state's expanded voucher program for non-public schools. Of course, they are not called vouchers, but scholarships, and the money does not come directly out of the state treasury.  Instead, Pennsylvania businesses get...

Make 'Em Laugh, Make 'Em Laugh

I am single. I spent five years in college with nothing more than a few awkward drinks and "hook-ups" that got me nowhere. I'm sure there are plenty of reasons (excuses) for my chronic single-ness. It could have been my lack of enthusiasm for the Drexel crowd. Light-wash denim shorts and tube socks combined with greasy pony tailed hair just didn't do it for me. Or it could be that God has spited me and placed a giant neon sign above my head that says "Run away! She'll chop your balls off!" only visible to those I find myself even mildly attracted to. There is, however, one answer that holds up. One of my best guy friends once told me at a party, "Guys don't date you because you're too funny." At the time it seemed ludicrous, but it buzzed around in my head, like a pesky fly caught between two windowpanes. The more I thought about it, the more I realized it was true.

Thank you, Mr. Penn

Although all 27 tons of him stands atop City Hall, William Penn isn't exactly a strong presence in the city he founded.  Compared to Benjamin Franklin, he's practically anonymous, so it's rare for someone to offer a modern tribute to the man who founded Philadelphia. But an essay that came...

Learning to Sink

Modern man is strong. Modern man is athletic. Modern man is...actually none of these things, which is why he is always at the gym. I did my part to contribute to the American gym culture and began working out and running, morphing from a couch potato to one something more resembling a thick steak fry. But something was still missing. Modern man is also supposed to have no fear. Being completely ripped won't matter when gorgeous woman asks you to join her for a swim and you have to sputter in reply: "I don't swim. I'm afraid of the water."

Council's Secret "WAM" Fund

Few taxpayers know about it, but each year their district Council members divvy up a $1.98 million slush fund buried deep within the Department of Parks and Recreation's $47.8 million budget. Referred to by one political aide as "Council's Walking Around Money," the Philadelphia Activities Fund, Inc. (or simply, "the Fund") is a grants program that essentially operates like a piggy bank for the city's political class, an easy pot of money for Council members to hand out cash to favored groups in their districts. Reporter Ryan Briggs reveals the details...

Zumba! Zumba! Zumba?

I know from the moment that the curly haired brunette steps onto the elevator that this is a mistake. Why? Well, for starters her parachute pants come complete with bondage straps and these straps bear the official fluorescent green Zumba insignia. She's also wearing a Zumba t-shirt and even though I can't see her entire bra, I'm willing to bet that it too is a registered trademark of the "fitness party" program. Her t-shirt has been cut, fringed and tied back together with all the flair of a 13 year old at summer camp--and adolescent summer campers have quite a bit of flair. Nonetheless, as the elevator reaches the fourth floor and we step out into the lobby, I can tell she's a woman who takes her mid-week trip to the gym seriously. Any minute now she's going to be the one elbowing her way to the front of the class, trying to intimidate newbies like myself with her Zumba pride. She's probably the teacher's pet--maybe that's how she's acquired all of this Zumba paraphernalia? Maybe she's been voted "most enthusiastic" or "least likely to look like an idiot

Learning to Compete

When I was a kid and complained about what was served for dinner, my father would always say: "It you don't like it, you can always go down the street." That always shut me up. This was in the 1950's and we lived in a new suburban development.  There was...

Saying No to a Bitter End

I grew up in a secular Jewish family in which death did not exist. We children were not allowed to go to funerals or cemeteries. We had no concept of Heaven, other than a once-a-year excursion to the Concord Hotel in the Catskills where we were allowed to stay up late and hear comedians tell obscene jokes with Yiddish punchlines. Even better, there was no Hell. At least not after my parents put my sister and me in separate bedrooms. So what happens when we die? "Nothing," said my father, the doctor. "It's like unplugging a TV." I accepted this with an air of superiority. When religious friends of all stripes spoke wistfully of dear, departed relatives being "in a better place," I rolled my eyes.

The Four Faces of Tom

Anyone trying to figure out what Gov. Corbett was up to this week in filing a suit against the NCAA and the sanctions it imposed on Penn State should go to Netflix and rent the 1957 movie The Three Faces of Eve. It stars Joanne Woodward in an Oscar-winning role...

Trawling for Cash

Myron Berman may be about to realize a decades-long dream of putting a giant wall wrap on the office building he owns on North 7th Street, just north of Callowhill Street. Council has passed a bill letting Berman erect a seven-story high, illuminated billboard across the southern face of his...

Living in the Darkness

Every day I felt the same. It did not matter what the weather was. The sun could be shining brightly or it could be storming. It could be summer or the winter. I could live in the South Pole or under the wonderful skies of Miami, but internally I felt the same way all the time. I couldn't seem to find any joy. I was living under continued darkness. I was a prisoner of my mind and my days all seemed to be bleak. I am suffering from depression caused by PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress syndrome). Until my diagnosis I assumed depression was just a temporary state of mind that people

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