BY AMY Z. QUINN
Like time, news waits for no man. Keeping up with the funny papers has always been an all-day job, even in the pre-Internets era. These days, however, it’s a two-man job. That’s right — these days you need someone to do your reading for you, or risk falling hopelessly behind and, as a result, increasing your chances of dying lonely and somewhat bitter. Hey, we know how it is — so many words to read, so little time to surf for free porn. That’s why every week, PAPERBOY does your alt-weekly reading for you, freeing up valuable nanoseconds that can now be better spent roughing up the suspect” over at Suicide Girls or what have you. Every week we pore over those time-consuming cover stories and give you the takeaway, suss out the cover art, warn you off the ink-wasters and steer you towards the gooey caramel center of each edition. Why? Because we like you.
ON THE COVER
CITY PAPER: We’ve always thought of Edgar Allan Poe as one of the Patron Saints of Philadelphia, along with Mario Lanza, Kate Smith and St. John Neumann, so Edward Petit’s crusade to reclaim the genius gothic writer and poet is one we can get behind. The author of “The Cask of Amontillado” lived in Philly from 1838 to 1844 during which time “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Fall of the House of Usher” were published. His time here was part of a life spent skipping from city to city:
Poe followed the same overall pattern in each city he lived in: editorships, critical battles with other writers, strange behavior, indigence. In a letter in 1841, he wrote, “I am a Virginian — at least I call myself one.” That qualifier at the end sums it up. He is a Virginian in name only, as a place where he spent most of his childhood. Interesting that Poe made this claim while living in Philadelphia. He may have been a good ol’ Southern boy, but now he had to qualify his geographical identity. Philadelphia had imprinted itself onto his heart.
In return, the city was pretty good to him, and re-started a literary career nearly killed off by his drinking, “irascibility” and general weirdness. Then again, given the dark deeds and shady characters which populated the city then, as now, is it any wonder it appealed to, indeed nurtured, Poe’s imagination?
The doomed family of the House of Usher was conjured by Poe here. William Wilson and his evil doppelganger also took form. The madman of “The Tell-Tale Heart” made his murderous confession under the dark skies of the Quaker City. C. Auguste Dupin, the prototype of Sherlock Holmes and all fictional detectives to follow, sprung from Poe’s fertile pen while the author was reading the daily criminal mysteries that plagued the city. The detective/mystery story was invented in Philadelphia! In 1842, Poe’s last full year in the city, he composed “The Black Cat,” “The Gold-Bug,” “The Masque of the Red Death,” “The Mystery of Marie Roget,” “The Oval Portrait” and “The Pit and the Pendulum.” No Philadelphia writer has ever produced a corpus to rival this.
Yet because he lived in Baltimore at various points, and died — mysteriously, terribly, nearly anonymously — there, the Queen City and history, claim him as one of their own.
True enough, while newspapers around the country were maligning Poe’s name, Philadelphia’s Quaker City Weekly was blasting a clarion to defend it: “As an author, his name will live, while three-fourths of the bastard critics and mongrel authors of the present day go down to nothingness and night.” Poe still had friends in Philadelphia.
Great story, gorgeously written. Bring your own shovel. Ignore the rantings from Baltimore.
PHILADELPHIA WEEKLY: “It’s a fight for minds,” is how one of the founders of Soul Genesis, an online indie-rap non-label launching this week, describes the growing movement to wrest rap music and hip-hop culture in general from the grip of bitches, hoes, and the bling-lovin’ criminals who love them. Kia Gregory looks at the state of hip-hop as an artistic, intellectual enterprise. Interestingly, the ghetto-fab thing image of black America seems to be selling better overseas than here:
For 50 [Cent], his Curtis album features songs like “My Gun Go Off,” “Man Down,” “I’ll Still Kill,” “Fully Loaded Clip” and “Curtis 187.” As with his previous albums, the rapper known for his nine gunshot wounds glamorizes a lavish world of violence and sex.
“50’s act is tired,” says Temple University urban education professor Marc Lamont Hill, who’s teaching a class on Jay-Z and Nas. “But he outsold Kanye in Europe, and around the world he’s still a phenomenon.”
Gregory does a great job of addressing the broader, indeed universal, implications of hip-hop’s commercial degradation, then refocuses it back to Philly. Thank you, Fiddy, for producing an album of such predictable wrong-headedness it has become instant shorthand for everything wrong with hip-hop.
For the founders of Soul Genesis, hip-hop’s social commentary has devolved from Public Enemy’s black CNN mindset to 50’s get-rich-or-die-trying formula.
“Dude, what are you doing?” Ewell says of the Curtis album. “This is your fourth album and you’re still rapping about killing. It just shows a lack of creativity that you see in the quality of music. You’re actually emulating yourself circa 2001.”
INSIDE THE BOOK
CP: Now here’s a yummy idea — the food being served inside Philadelphia schools should come from local growers ! Brian Hickey goes all in for Obama; Count Amorosi lets you know, if you didn’t already, that Brodzick’s out at PhilebrityTV. JoJo tells us they’ll be self-producing nearly everything instead.
PW: Former Daily News photog hates the Eagles because Duce Staley once insulted him, one wonders why he’s not mad at his former employer for standing up for him instead. DMac on PMH’s Bono-pallooza; a horror story about L&I, the agency everyone knows is totally fucked but somehow, nobody ever fixes.