Ithaca, N.Y. — Magician William Metro almost blends into the quiet Ithaca street corner where you can find him seven days of the week into the wee hours of the morning.
Metro mans his corner outside the Chanticleer with the precision of a clock, frigid cold or stifling heat, Thanksgiving or July 4, as the crowds come stumbling out of the downtown Ithaca bars.
Metro stays until after the bars close at 1 a.m. before driving to his home to Newfield.
He’s back on the same street by about 9:30 a.m. the next morning.
“In business, you got to be everywhere, all the time,” said Metro, 37, a die-hard Republican with a proud work ethic.
“This is my business. I created it. It’s my job. And I can go out here and make money.”
Pencil jutting out of his pocket, black blazer caked in dust, Metro has become part of the downtown landscape since setting up shop here in 2011.
His small wooden table, stacks of blue-and-red cards and goofy top hat are a fixture as ingrained — and seemingly permanent — as any of the city’s landmarks.
As is his pitch, which is quick, and always delivered with that firm hint of optimism: “Do you want to see some magic?”
But spend a short few minutes talking to Metro, who says he makes about $25,000 a year from magic, and you’ll learn that his street performance gig only encapsulates one of three of his great loves.
“Magic, music and politics,” he said, “Those are my passions.”
Metro said he was once a professional rapper — “MC Carpet” — so named after the flattop hairdo he once rocked.
“I did tours,” Metro said, adding with a laugh: “I’m pretty famous.”
The Voice couldn’t confirm that Metro was on tours, was famous or — as he said — had a record label.
But he certainly can rap (see video above).
“Can you rap without being high?
Can you make a clean rap with a positive vibe?
I doubt you can, homie, word to your mother, your father and your brother
When you can rap clean come see me
And I’ll show you what it takes to be a real MC.”
Metro said his recording equipment is broken, and he hasn’t been able to replace it for sometime. That leaves him — for now — to spend his time away from the magic table at the studio where he records “Political Point Magazine,” a conservative talk show he says is broadcast Mondays at 7 p.m.
“I’m a Reagan conservative and a Bush Republican,” said Metro, the father of two boys who live in Elmira. “Bush was one of the best presidents we ever had.”
Metro acknowledges his politics don’t exactly fit hand-in-glove with his city.
“This town is too liberal for its own good,” he said. “They’re just so wrong all the time about everything.”
The talk of politics is cut short as two bar-hoppers come ambling down the street.
“I’ve known you since I was a child,” the man says. “Isn’t that crazy?”
Metro cracks a half-grin, but doesn’t ask follow-up questions. He’s not really interested in discussing their mutual history.
Metro is intent on doing his trick, which he calls “Ultimate Magic.”
He does it well, calmly and with confidence, practicing the tricks he’s learned since he was an 11-year-old boy in Williamstown, Penn.
A few shuffles of the deck, a few sleights of hand … Why, yes, this is your card, isn’t it?
“How?,” the astonished man asks, slapping the brick wall against the side of the building. “How? How? How?”
Into the bar they go. The interview concluded, the reporter begins to walk away.
Until Metro again called out down the street.
“Hey,” he says, “have you ever seen the 3-penny trick?”