Writer and editor



What Would You Do If You Found a Bag of Human Ashes?

*The names of this person and those related to him as well as identifying details of his death have been changed. The day I found Charles started out pretty much like any other — well, except that I was doing a park cleanup and I never do park cleanups. It’s not that I don’t care about parks. But I don’t have the social acumen for group activities that compel small talk, especially when that small talk might be about recycling.
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Love in the Time of Dog DNA Testing

This is my third Chihuahua. That’s what I used to say about my dog, Birdie, until this summer, when I got her DNA tested. I paid nearly a hundred dollars to ship some glorified Q-tips to a laboratory in Lincoln, Nebraska, so that Science could tell me who my dog really is, deep down in her soul.
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Why Are So Many Children on Antipsychotic Drugs?

I had my first hallucination at 17, when I was studying Spanish in the Dominican Republic. I was walking down the street, about a half-block behind an old lady with a cart, when I saw someone attack her with a piece of wood, cracking her skull open so her brains leaked onto the pavement. I can still remember the way it looked — the bone and blood and wet gray matter.
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Is Jim Kenney the Face of New Philadelphia?

I thought there would be glad-handing. I thought there would be exuberant, sweaty-palmed high fives. I thought there would be clusters of well-wishers leaning in for brush-with-fame selfies. I had visions of Jim Kenney, 56, the mayoral candidate and former city councilman, in a slightly too tight Neumann-Goretti sweatshirt, smiling as he greeted supporters tromping up the metal rafters in Philadelphia University’s gymnasium.
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Growing Up in Philadelphia: The Lost City

Eddie Gindi seems genuinely excited as he stands at the dais in the Union League. The executive vice president and co-owner of Century 21 department stores is explaining why a new Philadelphia location at 8th and Market is the logical next step for a chic discount chain that until now has stuck to New York and New Jersey.
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Should the Building Collapse Site Become a Memorial Park?

Let me come right out and say it: I think the memorial park planned for the site of last year’s building collapse at 22nd and Market is misguided. This isn’t a position that will endear me to anyone related to the seven people who lost their lives as a result of the disaster, or to the 13 injured or their families.
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The Orlando Nightclub Shooter and the Agonizing Need to Know “Why”

We’d like it to be like Law & Order, or Criminal Minds, or CSI. On those shows, there’s always a clear motive. The boss killed his secretary so she wouldn’t tell his wife about their affair. The husband killed his wife to collect on the insurance money before the divorce went through. Even a serial killer does what he does because of that one uncle who molested him in the basement when he was 9.
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Jewish Groups Hold Events to Counter Inflamed Rhetoric

Two Jewish organizations held events this week — the week of the Democratic National Convention — addressing the issue of hate speech and inflamed political rhetoric. Bend the Arc Jewish Action held a reception at the National Museum of American Jewish History called “To Bigotry No Sanction: The 21st century Jewish movement for justice in America,” with special guests Sen.
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The Other Part of Womanhood No One Told Me About

When I was in grade school, one of our hippie teachers told us the story of making soup out of his new baby’s placenta — a tale we third-graders found simultaneously riveting and repulsive. Naturally, we went home and told our parents — “Did you make soup out of me, too?”. and there was muted outrage.
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Story_default_image_grey Here’s How Camden Reduced Gunfire by Nearly 50%

A combination of fancy technology and old-fashioned neighborhood policing. “We know we can’t arrest our way out of this.”. Yesterday Camden County released data from ShotSpotter, a gunshot detection tool that allows cities to track gunfire and develop proactive policing strategies as a result. The latest numbers show that between 2013 and 2014, the city of Camden experienced a 48 percent drop in gunfire — the third largest of 28 cities for which ShotSpotter has year-over-year data.

Tattoo This: The Jewish Body Is No Longer Off Limits

One of the most wonderful things about the Jewish tradition — the encouragement to ask questions — also makes it hard, sometimes, to get a straight answer. But when it comes to tattoos, there’s definitely a consensus: It is expressly forbidden to get a tattoo. The foundation for the prohibition appears in Leviticus: “You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead, or incise any marks on yourselves: I am the Lord.”.
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Was Drew Becher Too Ambitious for Philly?

Drew Becher and Rachael Ray at the 2014 Philadelphia Flower Show. | Photo: Bradley Maule. Let me be frank: I have no facility with plants or flowers; anytime a green thing comes into contact with my fingers, it wilts and dies, as though my antidepressants are leeching through my pores. Still, I’m deeply attuned to the flora of our city.
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Liz Spikol is a reporter and editor with more than 20 years experience in journalism, from digital startups to legacy print publications. An award-winning writer who has been profiled in The New York Times, among other outlets, she is a seasoned newsroom manager who also specializes in conceiving and launching new online products. Reporting beats include mental healthcare, politics, missing persons, sexual assault, cities, and the built environment.

Spikol is a frequent guest speaker at conferences and for media outlets. She also does storytelling performance and was one of the featured subjects in the documentary film "Of Two Minds." She was the host of the online series "Liz Spikol's Philadelphia."

Spikol received a B.A. in Creative Writing from Oberlin College, and an M.A. in Comparative Literature from The University of Texas at Austin. She lives in Philadelphia.