Mysteriously, the ghastly visage of Sam Adams appears in several frames of the extended cut of M. Night Shyamalan?s ?The Sixth Sense. This has never been explained.

Sam Adams
/ A / Writing for City Paper never threatened to make anyone rich, but it offered something more valuable: freedom. When I asked to lead the arts section with a 1,400-word feature on mother-daughter an?im?ators Faith and Emily Hubley, no one asked what kind of traffic it would do. Even though by March of 2000 we’d been on the web for years, we never talked page views or unique users. We made the paper we wanted to read, and trusted that if something was interesting enough for us to write about, it was worth reading about, too.

The feedback wasn’t always positive: I got hate mail for years after panning The Sixth Sense, little suspecting the sluggish, maudlin ghost story from a Main Line director would turn out to be a career-spawning hit. But even the angry reactions told us people were listening, that City Paper was as important to people who cared about the city’s cultural life as it was to the lives of the people (us) who put it out. We felt like we were at the center of things, and we took it seriously ? though not too seriously.

That center has shifted now, or maybe we live in a world without centers, where interest-driven algorithms deliver a custom-built feed that fits readers’ needs better than any general-interest publication could hope to. But looking back on all the articles I was privileged to write, I wonder what happens to the stories we ran because we felt they were important; even if we thought few people would read them, we hoped they’d matter to the ones that did. I wonder who’d scoop up a green 23-year-old the way City Paper‘s David Warner did me, and whether in 2033 anyone will be able to look back on 18 years’ worth of bylines in a single place the way I can right now. That history will live on as long as the online archives persist, but the future is all over the place.

Drew Lazor
/ A / The first film I ever reviewed for City Paper was 2007’s TMNT. Between then and now, I inexplicably carved out a role as CP’s go-to guy for any movie featuring ninjas, vampires, aliens, ghosts, robots, zombies, wizards, Gossip Girl cast members, Jason Statham, gun-loading montages, car explosions, regular explosions, the dramatic closing of a dead person’s eyelids, swords, Judd Apatow’s involvement, time travel, parkour/capoeira/both, arcane “magick” with a K, talking animals, flying spacecraft, characters with multiple personalities, Sean Bean, the “turn in your badge and your gun” scene, terra-cotta statues that come to life, terrible CGI, female protagonists who are as sexy as they are deadly, teens with superpowers and Mark Wahlberg. For someone who focuses mainly on food and drink, covering (mostly) bad action, horror and sci-fi was a cherished change of pace. Becoming CP’s contributing film editor last year allowed me to get even more involved with the section and gave me the chance to work with Sam Adams and Shaun Brady, two excellent writers who certainly understand the medium way better than I do. I’ll think of CP fondly every time I watch a crappy movie from here on out, starting with Vin Diesel’s fast-approaching The Last Witch Hunter.

Shaun Brady
/ A / My life as a writer began in this space. A couple years out of film school, I realized that I didn’t miss making films so much as I did writing about them. I submitted some reviews to City Paper almost as a lark, thinking maybe it would provide a chance to delve deeper into movies while figuring out my next steps. Eleven years later, I bid farewell to these pages only because they’ll no longer exist a week from now. That’s chiefly a testament to how, throughout my experience, this has been a place that trusts its writers’ instincts even when they lead in some pretty odd directions ? which is only appropriate for a paper that truly wants to represent this city. In a little over a decade, I’ve had the opportunity to hang out at Dear Old Captain Noah’s house listening to off-color jokes; unearth a long-forgotten horror film shot at a defunct amusement park; break kayfabe at a South Philly wrestling arena; and talk ‘staches with John Oates. Most importantly, it’s offered a consistent platform to shout about the always-rich but constantly beleaguered Philly jazz scene. What other city would support such a provocative collection of personalities as Bobby Zankel, Orrin Evans, Dave Burrell, Bootsie Barnes and the late, great, indefatigable Jimmy Amadie ? all of whom I got to profile in their idiosyncratic glory in these pages? And that’s just one writer’s zigzagging arc. The joy of being part of this paper has been watching it intersect with so many others.