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Notable Ithacan-Americans

Do You Believe in Magic?

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Tiny Town, USA – In the premature dark of a winter’s night, William Metro stands at the East end
of the Ithaca Commons plying his arts of deception. Underneath a red winter jacket his
well-worn suit and tie present a professional demeanor in the half-light of the Commons lamps.

LEFT: William Metro, Magician, waits to ply his trade. RIGHT: HECKUVA COMMUTE ... Metro wheels his bag of tricks downtown for another day at the job.

His soft come-hither voice and furtive eyes hint at a sly but amiable street hustler’s savvy for spotting a sucker. But it’s all a game. As passersby stroll along, he supplicates
with a practiced Midway barker's ingratiating, if hushed, welcome, “do you want to see
some magic?”

You might draw near, if only to hear him better.

Metro’s “booth” consists of a shopping cart freighted with two duffle bags full of
personal belongings as well as a large neon-spotted trunk holding the “tricks” of
his curious trade. He travels by foot, and that’s impressive.

William Metro declares himself a magician and a self-made entrepreneur. He
started his magic business about a year ago while living in Elmira. But his
initiation to sleight-of-hand crafts began when he was very young, he says,
and he mastered some basic tricks over time. His specialties are card tricks, money
tricks and paper tricks.

The Elmira stint, which included going door-to-door offering magic tricks, proved
unsuccessful and, having resided in Ithaca once before as a maintenance person
at Center Ithaca, he returned here to better his chances.

Even before his return as a street performer, Metro had earned an off-beat
reputation for wearing -– in all weathers -–  a variety of tall hats, one of them an
actual Dr. Seuss Cat-in-the-Hat.

He claims his return to Ithaca offered him “better business opportunities.” If so,
it’s a hard buck he earns here. It takes more than savvy to stand outside all the cold damp day
and into the night soliciting anything, never mind magic.

“We [magicians] perform miracles. Magic is performing and doing the unbelievable,” he said.

Maybe so. Metro has his mentors. His confidence and ambition are rooted in his political beliefs and business ethics. His entrepreneurial ideals and politics are borrowed from Farrah Gray, a celebrity author and motivational speaker of the conservative Republican Party. Before Metro returned to Ithaca, he ran a television show from his home called, Political Point. The segment was aired
on Public Access and promoted the Republican Party, specifically, President Bush’s 2004 campaign. Metro described how each episode began.

RIGHT: Metro entertains some local with a little bit of his basic magic.→

“(I used) a black conservative puppet as the host, and the theme of the
show is that you’re watching Political Point where the right is right and the left is
always on the wrong side of history.”

You can find the site on Myspace until Metro finds a stable home for it. As for Metro’s own digs, he boards at a local shelter.

Metro was registered as an Independent Party member for as long as he could
remember until, he says, he examined former President Bush’s policies and
decided they were worth supporting. Metro said being a black conservative
republican in Ithaca, New York, is fun for him.

“I love debating with the liberals because a lot of times they’re wrong and I
have the facts and the proof to back up what I’m saying.”

All of Metro’s tricks have a name. He asks the reporter if she wants to see a trick and he begins pulling out a single dollar bill from his pocket. He pulls it taut displaying the dollar as a whole and then begins precisely folding it corner to corner until it’s smaller than an inch.

Without pausing to show the reporter the condensed money, Metro is already unfolding it carefully slipping each corner away from the last. As the dollar becomes taut once again, it slips open into a twenty dollar bill, multiplying momentarily.

Any vendor in the City of Ithaca has to pay to hold a place on the Commons.
But there’s a caveat: if you keep moving every hour, you don’t have to pay a vendor’s fee.

So Metro’s act takes him from storefront to storefront. Most businesses are fine with
Metro’s magic show. The owners of Schooleys Jewelers, however, have a beef
with Metro and don’t want him in front of their shop.

“If you want to solicit for money, you should pay a fee. The vendors on the
Commons pay their fees and while I like William, I think he should pay, too,” said
a head employee of Schooleys.

But give credit where it’s due: Metro keeps out of trouble with the police, he’s
polite and his movements may help increase his revenue. Which, after all, is the bottom line.

“It doesn’t matter how much it is, it could be ten bucks or 50 bucks, but
any day I make money is a good day.”

HOW'D HE DO THAT?: Metro wins some new fans with a fancy card trick

Metro’s goals for the future are to re-boot his TV show once his
magic business gets in the black. He also would like to continue integrating his
three passions to launch a start-up called “Jack of All Trades.”

“I’m going to use this [money] to start up William Metro's
School of Entrepreneurship, where I teach people how to become entrepreneurs
just by using their skills and talents.”

Metro said he would like to help people because he feels there are too
many Americans on welfare. He said that the best way to solve that is for people
to learn how to make money for them selves. Metro said that was the impetus for starting his 
own business.

“I rediscovered the magic and I found that if I put all that together, I’m just doing
what’s natural, I’m doing what I know and love. So I became an entrepreneur.”

– Carolyn Cutrone, Ithaca College senior and special correspondent to the tinytowntimes.com



←Carolyn Cutrone (right) is a journalism student at Ithaca College. Here she interviews William Metro, a local magician, her first assignment for tinytowntimes.com.

Carolyn's experience includes a stint as an intern at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting in Washington, D.C. She plays volleyball, loves to sing and dance whenever given the opportunity.

She's outgoing and ambitious and ready for any challenge. Well, we threw one at her and she knocked it out of the park.


Last Updated on Thursday, 28 January 2016 22:26

Tiny Town Man Makes Up to $5K a Year by Keeping His Head Down

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TINY TOWN, USA –– Phil doesn't need the money, he says. He does it because it's fun. 

Phil is a collector. What he finds is money. Lots of it.

"About $5,000 a year, I estimate," he says. On Monday, July 20, Phil had $5 worth of returnable cans -- and better yet -- he found a $20 bill in the gutter. A good day, but not that unusual he says.

Phil is out in all weather every day all year. Many Ithacan-Americans will recognize him: He plods the streets with head bowed carrying his trademark Big Red Bags, from the East Hill EduCorp company store. His best day ever? A roll of four $20. His best lucky streak ever? 

"Up on campus I found a 20 dollar bill. Then coming into Collegetown, I found a five dollar bill. At the bottom of Buffalo Street right in front of the Unitarian Church, I found a 10 dollar bill," he says gleefully. "Isn't that amazing?"

Phil says he knows of two others like himself on the lookout for lost cash and other goodies. 

"They're what I call bums," he says. "Not because they're broke -- they're well heeled gentlemen like myself. I have a good retirement. But they are lazy, they don't look as carefully as I do, they don't poke around behind trash cans and under cars."

He's even turned on a mail man to his habit.

"I come up the street one day and there's the mailman holding up a 20 dollar bill," Phil says. "He tells me 'I guess I got here before you today, Phil.'" 

Phil got onto the idea a while ago when he read a book about who knows what and one startling fact caught his attention.

"The author estimated that in America alone, about one billion dollars is lost -- and some times found -- every year," Phil said. "That really struck home."

And so he goes on, head bowed, eyes ever alert, earning a living on top of his living, outdoors, for fun and profit.

–– C. Penbroke Handy 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 January 2012 11:48

A Free and Merry Tuba Christmas by One for All

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O Tannenbaum, thank you, Dave Unland, for continuing the Tuba Christmas Tradition here in Tiny Town!

Dim lights Embed Embed this video on your site

Last Updated on Friday, 16 December 2011 06:43

NIKKEI The Cat Returneth!

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Nikkei has been found.
It took three months of Search and Belief.
Papa Richard Brumfield never gave up hope.
His steadfast heart was rewarded.
Nikkei returneth alive and well.
More good news to come,
Blessings, y'all.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 December 2011 00:44

Farewell, Bill: RIP

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Tiny Town, USA – Didn't know him much at all. I left him be.

He was always there.

A part of the cityscape, uptown and downtown.

How many decades?

I do not know.

His name was Bill.

Rumor has he died of a heart attack. 

I do not know.

He was with us for a long time. 

I will miss this man.

I came to depend, unknowingly, on his being there.

Like a tree that's always on a certain street.


A fixture.

Now gone.

Rest in peace, Bill.

Thank you for being part of our world.

Thank you.

For being and staying with us.

It must have been difficult; at other times, ecstatic.

Thank you. 

– Franklin Crawford


Dear Readers: I play the role of stranger in this homage to Bill and that is misleading. I spoke with Bill many times and always respected his request for space and quiet. I've lived here 35 years and have come to know when to tip my hat and when to shut the fuck up. Always said hello to Bill if it seemed right. I don't intrude on the lives of those who wish to be among us yet not harassed by daily howdy-dos.Thank you all for your comments. It reminds me how quietly in concert many of us are on the daily rounds of tiny town.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 December 2011 02:42

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