Other clips linked at the Awards page.


… Almost lost amid the discussions of hands and wounds was Hellman’s explanation as to why he’d changed his initial ruling on manner of death, suicide, to homicide. Hellman said he was informed by a detective in a phone call “that a third person took the gun from the decedent, put it to his head and shot him. Your Honor, based on this information I changed the manner of death to homicide.… If this had been a suicide, Your Honor, why would the gun be outside the window?”

And the time of this call, according to Hellman’s testimony? April 13, 1990, 11:45 a.m. — about six hours before the second interview with Berrian, who was the first to say that Combs shot Shephard.

Aside from Hellman’s ruling of manner of death as homicide, there was no physical evidence to tie Combs to Shephard’s shooting. His prints were not found on the gun (none were, in fact). His hands had not been tested for gunpowder residue. And if there was blood on his clothes, as one might expect after shooting someone at close range, none of the officers at the scene noticed it.

— from A Profoundly Disturbing Case, Philadelphia City Paper, June 2000

[Dr. Robert] Trollinger, who is 71, was arrested in his office on the morning of Jan. 8; on March 12, he is scheduled to stand trial on charges of selling controlled substances, bilking the Medical Assistance Program, illegally taping conversations (with audio-capable surveillance cameras installed in the office) and evading taxes. Maybe by then someone will be able to explain to the residents of this Southwest Philadelphia neighborhood why a doctor allegedly was allowed to run what amounted to a prescription drug retail outlet for seven years, maybe more.

Trollinger’s alleged operation had to be the worst-kept secret in Southwest Philadelphia.

“From outside, all you saw was a line of people, all scraggly-looking,” says Sam Ricks of Parkwatch 9015, a nearby town watch organization. “It looked like they were waiting for a casino bus.

“Of any [alleged] drug location I’ve ever seen, this one came closest to having a neon sign over it. You know, ‘Get drugs here.'”

— from Dr. Yes, Philadelphia City Paper, 1998



But is it real?

Wrestlers and fans don’t like this question. Apparently to them it is more than a simple inquiry; perhaps it reminds them of their outcast status as lovers of a pastime that exists somewhere between pure sport and pure entertainment, and is rejected by both. “I mean, you go to a Broadway show — that’s fake, isn’t it?” asks Aviles. “We see wrestling as a high art form.”

Aviles is well aware that most people hold professional wrestling in low regard, viewing it as little more than a circus with violent clowns. He is aware of this, but that doesn’t mean he has to put up with it.

Turning down the sound on the battered old television, he faces the 20 or so wrestlers filling the grimy room, watching a tape of their most recent performance. “This is Frank,” he says to them, setting his hand on my shoulder. “His article will come out in the City Paper next Thursday. I wanted you to see what he looks like, so if he harpoons wrestling, you know who to go after.”

“Be careful, Frank,” someone calls out. “We know where you work.”

— from Alliance of the Slams, Philadelphia City Paper, 1999

The meeting occurred almost 20 years ago, but Sue Romberger still recalls the frustration of sitting across a desk from a woman who could answer all her questions about her mysterious past, but wouldn’t.An adult adoptee, Romberger went in 1980 to the agency that handled her adoption, seeking information that would help her find her parents. She’d obtained her original birth certificate, but hadn’t been able to locate her birth mother with the limited information it provided. The woman at the adoption agency doled out tidbits that were of little value to her search while Romberger fought the urge to lunge across the desk and grab the file from her hands.

“And then she finally slipped,” Romberger recalls. The woman gave her a detail that indicated Romberger’s mother had lived in Montgomery County (the birth certificate had suggested she lived in western Pennsylvania). “And to this day I don’t know if she slipped on purpose or by accident.”

She found her maternal grandparents’ phone number, and posed as a student working on a genealogy project. Her grandfather politely answered her questions, and when she was sure she’d found the right family, Romberger told him who she was. “There was a pause,” she recalls, “and then he gasped a lot—he had emphysema—and I thought, ‘My God, I killed my grandfather!’

“And finally he said, ‘How are you, dear?'”

— from Who Am I?, Philadelphia City Paper, 1999



Erik Goehringer, a technology professional from Akron, said: “LeBron is a great player, and a good guy, but he’s only an athlete. He doesn’t define this city any more than I do. I hope he stays, but if not you’ll hardly see people rioting or committing mass suicides. You are only a loser if you act like one. Or if you are from Pittsburgh or Michigan.”

Humor as dark as Lake Erie — that is how some Cleveland fans cope. To paraphrase an old quote: To be a Cleveland sports fan is to know that in the end your team will break your heart.

“Everything about this,” Grzegorek sighed, “is so Cleveland.”

In Cleveland, Sports Fan Cheer Until it Hurts, The New York Times, May 2010.
Related: A Statement Hits Home as Cleveland Stews



Baird, who’d joined the board around 1990 after buying more than 500,000 shares, says he supported “the first one or two” acquisitions, but started asking questions as the frenzy continued — and the debt mounted. “When I was first with the company, we didn’t have a lot of debt,” he explains. “I’m a conservative guy; I don’t like to pay money to banks.”

The first time Baird raised these concerns, Lauer talked about growth and diversification, and most board members — “the Cleveland old boys’ network,” as Baird puts it — seemed content. The next time Baird asked questions, Lauer got “nasty.” A heated exchange ensued.

“Lauer would do that if you challenged him,” says John Weil, a former board member and shareholder from St. Louis, who also grew skeptical over time. He recalls Lauer’s response to Baird: “Why’d you hire me if you wanted me to be a custodial manager?”

— from The Wreck of the Oglebay Norton, Cleveland Scene, 2004

All of the plaintiffs contend that the deficiencies in the emergency response system found in the investigation were the result of rampant downsizing conducted to prepare the company for competition with other utility companies. What’s more, they say, PECO Energy’s upper management was aware of the potentially dangerous situation these cutbacks were creating, but didn’t care.

At the heart of this contention is a statement attributed to CEO McNeill. It was his alleged reply to employees’ warnings, in an informal meeting in the Morton, PA, facility in August 1995, that continued downsizing of PECO’s staff was increasing the odds that a disaster would occur.

“That’s why we have insurance.”

— from Explosive Charges, Philadelphia City Paper, 1998



Hot dogs and sausages get a bad rap. What other food’s manufacturing process is invoked to describe the most loathsome aspects of politics? Yes, lots of unpopular parts of uncuddly animals are ground up to make the tubular treats. But show me a ballpark or backyard barbecue that doesn’t offer them — or at least vegetable-based facsimiles — and I’ll show you a haven for communists and perverts.

Not that the dogs you’ll be served in Rockwellian settings will be, you know, good. There is a wide range of quality in hot dogs, from the pathetic, pale, food-in-name-only creatures sold at Progressive Field (made, I suspect, from those beer cups that proudly proclaim their corn ancestry and recycleability) to the fat, flavorful, all-beef franks that are the heart of the menu at the West Side bar and music venue Happy Dog.

— from In Dog We Trust, Cleveland Scene, February 2010



Standing on the hilltop that my ancestors abandoned slightly more than a century ago, it’s easier to understand why they left. The view is gorgeous, but the land is water-logged and ankle-twistingly lumpy and, as my cousin, Gerry, puts it, no good for growing anything but children.

Gerry, who brought me to this spot, is the grandson of Thomas Daniels, the since-deceased younger brother of my late great-grandmother Cecelia Daniels. Thomas, the youngest of four, remained in Ireland — in Loughrea in County Galway, to be precise — even after Cecelia and two other siblings left for America around 1900. Apparently there was no further contact. Until now.

— from Connecting Flight, Philadelphia City Paper, 2003

Sharif Street is my hero. Not because we’re friends — I’ve only met him once. Not because he’s the mayor’s son — I voted for the other guy.

Sharif Street is my hero for one reason: When he ran for a seat in the state House this year, he refused to cut his hair.

For the first time, I saw on campaign literature someone who looked like me. OK, not exactly, since I’m white, but color is only skin deep; long hair goes all the way down your back. So for that reason alone, Street’s campaign, unsuccessful though it was, made me proud — proud to be a longhair. And if no other elegantly plumed man has already reclaimed that once-pejorative term, then consider it now officially repossessed and off-limits to the clipped and shorn. Longhairs unite! We’re here, we’re not necessarily queer, get used to it.

— from Length Matters, Philadelphia City Paper, 2002