This Man Is on a Mission to Make 10,000 Friends. I Was His 644th.

Rob Lawless with the author. Photograph by Jauhien Sasnou

Rob Lawless with the author. Photograph by Jauhien Sasnou

When I walk into Shot Tower Coffee just after 9 a.m. on a recent Friday, it doesn’t take me long to spot Rob. His hair is slicked to the right, just like in his photos. As I near the table where he’s sitting, he greets me with the ear-to-ear smile I’ve seen on Instagram so many times.

No, this isn’t an early weekend Tinder date, and Rob Lawless isn’t quite famous. A few nights back, we arranged this sit-down via email. When I reached out to ask if he’d be the subject of this story, he asked if I’d be the subject of a story, too. Lawless, 26, wanted me to take part in the very project I want to document: He was 14 months into a 10-year quest to make 10,000 new friends in a very 21st-century way. On this unseasonably warm January morning, I’m the 644th stranger to meet him. Read more »

Mom From SEPTA Kids Video Speaks Out: “He Came at Us, We Didn’t Come at Him”

Left: Screenshot from video of incident on SEPTA. Middle: Jessica Carrera with son. Right: The children from the video enjoying a snack at Old City's Wexler Gallery, shortly before the video was shot.

Left: Screenshot from video of incident on SEPTA. Center: Jessica Carrera with son. Right: The children from the video enjoying a snack at Old City’s Wexler Gallery, shortly before the video was shot.

UPDATE, 3/31/16: Read the latest on the SEPTA kids video.

By now, you’ve probably seen it: A disturbing viral video that shows a group of out-of-control young children on SEPTA’s Market-Frankford El. It has been all over TV news in the last 24 hours.

The group of African-American and Latino kids are seen spitting, cursing, and punching, seemingly targeting the person behind the camera, a white man named Patrick Coyle. Meanwhile, the woman accompanying the children stands quietly nearby.

Well, Philadelphia magazine has seen a different video, captured in the moments before the viral video began, and this new video shows a different perspective. The woman can be seen trying to get the kids in line, and Coyle — who continued to record the children after the woman says she and the kids repeatedly asked him to stop — can clearly be heard calling one of the children a “monkey kid.” Twice.

Here, the woman in the video, Jessica Carreras, 38, tells her side of the story. Carreras is the mother of the Latino children and the aunt of the two African-American kids. The children range in age from 7 to 11. We repeatedly reached out to Coyle, who did not respond to our requests for an interview. Read more »

Signs of the Apocalypse: The Peeple App Launches


I’m approaching that age where it’s time to decide if I want to bring children into this world.

Most days, the answer is yes. I love kids, and for whatever reason — blind optimism, naïveté, Ambien — I believe that the human race is a good one and that we’ll eventually wake up from this fever dream we call election season.

But on other days, the Peeple app launches. Read more »

Social Media Threat Closed Tacony Academy Charter School in Wissinoming Today


UPDATE: Tacony Academy Charter School in Wissinoming is open today, according to a message from the school’s CEO and principal. “We are putting additional security measures in place and opening tomorrow for education. As some investigations take time, we will allow law enforcement to do their due diligence” Ashley Redfearn wrote on the school’s website. “With police presence and security on campus, we will have a productive educational day.”

UPDATE: In a new message on its web site, Tacony Academy Charter School’s CEO and principal Ashley Redfearn said the school is continuing to work with police regarding the social media threat that canceled school today. “We have not made a decision yet about school tomorrow. Please check by 7 p.m. for an update,” the statement advises.

ORIGINAL: The Tacony Academy Charter School, a high school in Philadelphia’s Wissinoming neighborhood, made the decision to close this morning after officials there were notified of a picture of guns on social media.

Read more »

5 Reasons Your Business Should Be On Snapchat


The year of Snapchat is upon us. The social media platform is growing at an unbelievably rapid rate and doesn’t show signs of slowing down. In fact, the latest reports put Snapchat’s user base at a whopping 100 million. Compare that to Twitter’s 300 million and you’ll realize that Snapchat is not a social media platform your business can ignore any longer.

If your goal is to reach new customers and engage more with your current fans, then Snapchat needs to be a priority for your business. Here are five ways to take advantage: Read more »

Comcast Explains Epic Facebook Fail

(Gil C / Shutterstock)

(Gil C / Shutterstock)

Comcast tried to smack talk one of its competitors on social media, but it backfired in a big way. On its Xfinity Facebook page, Comcast took a jab at Google Fiber for losing service in Kansas City while many were watching the Royals in the World Series.

The company targeted this photo and comment to customers in the Kansas City region: Read more »

10 High-Quality Tweets About the Pope Francis Visit


Follow Philadelphia magazine’s live coverage of Pope Francis’s historic visit all weekend long.

Apparently the Pope will be in town for a thing this weekend or something? Just as his holiness has taken over the collective Philadelphia consciousness, he’s also invaded the Twittersphere.

So, in honor of all that, we went searching for the best tweets about @Pontifex’s travels here in the land of the free and the home of the cheesesteak.

Here’s what we found: Read more »

Meet the Local Hospital Worker Who Posts Autopsy Photos on Instagram

Nicole Angemi via Instagram

Nicole Angemi via Instagram

When you go into the hospital, you probably don’t expect that your tumor, gangrened leg or, God forbid, dead body will wind up on Instagram. But thanks to one local hospital’s pathology assistant, who moonlights at Drexel University as a teacher, it could happen. South Jersey’s Nicole Angemi routinely shares pathology and autopsy photos with her 350,000-plus followers on Instagram (she swears none of them are her patients), so we reached out to her to find out how a mother of three wound up with such a gruesome hobby. As a condition of the interview, we agreed not to reveal the hospital where she is employed.

See below the interview for a gallery of some of the photos she has shared. Read more »

Behind the Scenes With Jim Kenney’s Twitter Brain Trust

Jim Kenney | Photo by Jeff Fusco

Jim Kenney | Photo by Jeff Fusco

Depending on your point of view, Stephanie Waters either has the best or worst job in Philadelphia politics. She’s the digital director for Jim Kenney, the city’s presumptive next mayor.

That means she’s in charge of Kenney’s famed Twitter account, where he remarked as a city councilman that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was “fat assed,” that Justin Bieber may have benefitted from a beating, and much, much more. As a mayoral candidate, Kenney’s account has turned relatively tame, so much so that some have wondered if his staff occasionally bans him from using it.

In a brief Q&A, we asked Waters if there is any truth to that rumor and more. Her responses have been lightly edited for clarity.
Read more »

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