The Immigrant on My Couch

As a result of Trump-era immigration policies, fewer highly skilled and educated legal immigrants — like 26-year-old Akirt Sridharan from India — are being hired by U.S. companies despite their qualifications.

Published: Jan 19, 2019
Length: 22 minutes (5,609 words)

Urban Outfitters Bares All

Inside the secretive and mysterious world of Urban Outfitters, youth-culture behemoth and $3.4 billion empire.

Published: Aug 20, 2016
Length: 20 minutes (5,062 words)

What Happened After My Kidnapping

Bradford Pearson was abducted and robbed at gunpoint in West Philadelphia in 2006. He tries to track down the men who did it.

Published: Sep 21, 2015
Length: 19 minutes (4,777 words)

How to Skip College — and Thrive

Grace Jay-Benjamin thrived and excelled while attending two of Philadelphia’s best schools, but decided not to attend college upon graduating from high school.

Published: Aug 28, 2014
Length: 11 minutes (2,892 words)

The Death of the Funeral Business

How our mourning rituals have evolved:

It’s all part of the biggest trend in funerals: personalization. Taking a cue from Oprah, who reportedly has planned her own funeral, contemporary mourners are trying to make the worn outlines of ritual more authentic and meaningful. We’re singing “My Heart Will Go On” at services, and showing montages of our deceased’s school days, weddings, grandkids. We’re having their cremains shot into space, made into diamonds and interred in coral reefs. The newest disposal method: dissolving the body via alkaline hydrolysis. The resultant liquid washes right down the drain.

Rituals evolve. What stays constant is our need for them, for some way to make sense of the hole in the social fabric that death creates. “While the types of services we offer are changing, our job has remained the same,” say Peter. “People always told stories. We are always remembering who the people were.”

Published: Nov 22, 2013
Length: 16 minutes (4,125 words)

Why Did the Schaibles Let Their Children Die?

Herbert and Catherine Schaible are devout members of the First Century Gospel Church, which strictly believes in divine healing—meaning no doctors or medicine are allowed. Two of their children died after they became ill, and the couple is now facing third-degree murder charges. The writer attempts to understand the couple’s actions by visiting their church, and talking to other members of the community:

One hot night in Lawndale, Dave and his brother Richard—the next brother of nine Schaible siblings—sit at Dave’s dining room table and talk about how the burden is on us, to make sure God is listening to our prayers.

“God will show you where you’re out of line,” Dave says. “You’ve got to be willing to correct that. If our heart is right with God, He will show us a hidden resentment toward somebody, or hatred, or anything. But He’s also a jealous God, and when you put something between us and Him—it says in the Bible, ‘There should be no other gods in your life.’”

I remark that it seems an incredibly demanding command to live by.

Published: Oct 25, 2013
Length: 22 minutes (5,640 words)

Has Carl June Found a Key to Fighting Cancer?

They once struggled for funding. Now, Carl June and researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are drawing attention for a trial that uses gene therapy—engineered T cells—to fight cancer:

“In their natural state, T cells usually aren’t able to kill tumor cells, partly because they can’t latch on strongly enough. But June was fascinated by scientific papers showing it was possible to change this. A few researchers—first an Israeli named Zelig Eshhar in the ’80s, then other investigators around the world—had discovered that you could force a T cell to stick to a tumor cell and kill it. To pull this off, you built an ‘engineered T cell’—a T cell never before seen in nature. You altered the T cell’s genetic blueprint by injecting a new gene into the cell. The new gene would tell it to build a new molecular limb. The limb, called a ‘chimeric antigen receptor,’ would sit partly inside the cell and partly outside, and it could send signals either in or out. One signal it could send was: kill. Another was: replicate.

“June loved this approach. So elegant. Put the immune system on steroids. What if you could train the body to fight cancer on its own? What if, instead of replacing a patient’s immune system (as in a bone-marrow transplant) or pumping him full of poison (chemo), you could just borrow some cells, tweak them, and infuse them back into the patient? In theory, the engineered cells would stay alive in the blood, replenishing themselves, killing any tumors that recurred. It occurred to June that one infusion could last a lifetime.”

Published: Aug 14, 2013
Length: 36 minutes (9,145 words)

Member Exclusive: When Your Therapist Drives You Crazy

Our latest exclusive comes from Sabrina Rubin Erdely, a writer for Rolling Stone. “When Your Therapist Drives You Crazy,” first published in 2002 for Philadelphia magazine, is about a woman who enters marriage counseling—but ends up consumed by something much bigger.

“The vibe at Genesis was equally informal and New Agey, from the burbling waterfall machine to the framed inspirational poems, including one that read ‘Feel…Feel…Feel….’ Even the practice’s logo was touchy-feely: two overlapping hearts with a butterfly perched on top. Still, Mansmann didn’t seem flaky, and Carol noted with relief that the therapist and John quickly developed a good rapport. Mansmann explained that Genesis Associates—consisting of herself and another therapist, Pat Neuhausel—was a cutting-edge practice with a uniquely holistic outlook. (Both Mansmann and Neuhausel declined to be interviewed.) Its program was so effective, Mansmann added, that clients tended to show rapid improvements.

“‘How long do you think it would take us?’ Carol inquired.

“‘About thirteen months,’ Mansmann answered immediately, according to Carol.

“She was surprised at the precision of the reply. ‘Thirteen months?’

“‘That’s how long our program is,’ she says Mansmann affirmed. ‘Unless you were to come up with something else. Like, maybe, incest.'”

Published: Feb 1, 2002
Length: 26 minutes (6,550 words)

A Summer at Camp Kweebec

[Not single-page] A visit to one of Philly’s most iconic summer camps:

“White’s runner arrived at the stage first, and Tyler, a Villanova bunk member who’d been watching older campers do this for years, thrust his face into the dessert topping. A chant rose: ‘Eat that pie! Eat that pie!’ About five minutes into the munch, the inevitable happened. Tyler lurched a little, and a burst of purple mud seeped out of his mouth, back onto the pie plate.

“I had been told that regurgitation wouldn’t end a pie-eating effort. I never imagined this rule would come into play, that one young man would have to make the ultimate sacrifice for his team. There have been legendary moments in the annals of Philadelphia sports: Chamberlain’s 100-point game, the Flyers’ 1974 Cup championship. I’ll spare the details, but Tyler cleaned his plate first. He won the Apache Relay. His teammates mobbed the stage. Someone shouted ‘That’s how to get it done!’ and slapped him on the back. Younger boys gaped in awe. Someday, they dared to dream, that’s gonna be me.”

Published: Jun 29, 2012
Length: 10 minutes (2,685 words)

The Hit Man: John-John Veasey’s Life After the Philly Mob

He was one of the most colorful characters in the history of the Philly mob — a charming killer who tangled with two Mafia bosses, survived three gunshots to the head, and suffered through the revenge murder of his own brother. Then he went into the Federal Witness-Protection Program — and built a new life for himself that may have been even crazier than his first one.

Published: Oct 29, 2010
Length: 29 minutes (7,486 words)