BY AMY Z QUINN Look, this whole midweek holiday thing is messing me up. PW came out a day early this week, who knew, and besides, the Philly alt-weeklies are tough to come by down in Cape May. Oh right, you can read them online. Sssshhh, don’t tell the Boss. Anyway, I would have loved a nice light read this week, fortunately/unfortunately both weeklies’ cover stories are thick and juicy like that yardbird you chowed down on at your cousin’s barbecue.
Philadelphia Weekly: Steven Wells has the cover with a feature on a powerhouse girl’s soccer team, the Anderson Monarchs, based in Point Breeze and the one team out of 556 in its league whose roster is primarily minority. Includes this gem:
“Competitive youth soccer in the United States is really the middle-class equivalent of dressage or polo,” says Paul Kooistra, a sociology professor at Furman University in South Carolina and author of Bend It Like Bourdieu: Class, Gender and Race in American Youth Soccer. “It provides a way middle-class parents can separate themselves and their children from lower social classes and minorities.”
While it may be a less dramatic explanation, what seems more likely is that inner-city youths play less soccer because there are fewer safe, clean and available fields on which they can play — and Wells’ description of the lengths the Monarchs must go to play the game they clearly love and at which they excel bears that out — and the suburbs are full of white kids itching to take up a sport and plenty of open acreage for soccer fields.
The piece also includes the obligatory Wellsian bitch-swipes, at newspaper sports departments for not being able to more adequately cover youth travel sports:
“Though there are sentimental books and movies by the score about fictional plucky underdogs overcoming impossible odds, you could fit all the clippings ever produced about the gritty and ferociously courageous Anderson Monarchs girls into a slim manila folder.”
*rolls eyes* I say that not just as a sports editor’s wife (trust me, it would take a far larger staff and a far better website for the area’s newspapers to cover every local sports league) but because the digs are unnecessary. Stop telling people what a great story you got your hands on, and just tell a great story.
CityPaper: Speaking of cover stories just begging to be turned into an HBO drama, Tom Namako‘s piece on Iraq War Veteran Erik Arroyo is a don’t-miss (unlike those fireworks in the city Wednesday night). Arroyo, for whom the Army provided a well-timed diversion from the life he might have faced on the streets of North Philly, is back in the neighborhood. Insert your own mean-streets-as-battleground-metaphor here. Sent by the Army back to his parents’ rowhouse to recover in the supposed safety of his old neighborhood, Arroyo watches drug dealers from the upstairs window and wonders which war was worse:
“Someone tossed a grenade under the Humvee, and the blast tore apart the rear bumper but the throw was off and left the occupants unharmed. They never figured out who threw the bomb; it could have been any normal-looking Iraqi standing by.
Now, on Sixth and Tioga, he points to the assembled crowd.
“You know, I walk up and down the street, and I don’t know who’s who. I don’t know if that group of people is just hanging out, if they’re selling drugs or if they’re plotting to rob my house,” he says. “In Iraq, they didn’t have a uniform, and here they don’t have a name tag that says, ‘I’m a drug dealer,’ ‘I’m a thief,’ ‘I’m the guy who makes IEDs.'”
Is it hopeful, or hopelessly sad, to wonder if the young men and women returning from battle in the streets of Baghdad will be the ones to bring peace, order, and measure of safety to the streets of North Philly? While the police continue to stand down, will our Gen Y combat veterans be the ones to stand up?
Winner: CP, with a sparkler!
INSIDE THE BOOK:
PW: Forget everything else inside this issue and go straight to Black Like Me. “Luke, I’m late for my Lambda Lambda Lambda chapter meeting.” Also, Pop Rocks has Garbage Pail Kids, video games and “Blackminton.” God, I feel old.
CP: Best line about the iPhoneStreetGate, from The Bell Curve: “Mayor Street to endorse Hillary Clinton for president. “She’s the iPhone of the field,” says Street.“ Mary Patel gets the straight poop on the Delaware River dredging that may or may not actually ever happen, depending on which side of the river the columnist writing the piece is from and whether Gov. Corzine had a good day at physical therapy.