PAPERBOY: Travails Of The City Edition

BY AMY Z. QUINN 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 Thursday 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.


CITY PAPER: Anecdotal lead on story about the failure of Wi-Fi Philadelphia reveals that service is really good in the middle of Spring Garden Street. Myself, I’m partial to the signal strength I get while sitting in my car on N. 3rd Street in Old City waiting for the Boss to wake his ass up, but ssssshhh, don’t tell anybody.

cp_2007-11-08.jpgEven the most plugged-in can’t plug in. Back in mid-October, City Councilman Frank Rizzo said he went to Love Park with his laptop “to enjoy a few minutes of relaxation.” But the Web-savvy politician had difficulty connecting, even with the support of the city’s IT team. He resolved the problem using “a combination of our city IT people, who then engaged EarthLink, and a representative of EarthLink eventually had to straighten out some of the glitches.”

Satisfyingly dense story, lots of talk of backhauls and routers and nodes (Oh my!), that suffers only from feeling soft in a week where there was so much breaking news to be had. The reason the failure of Wi-Fi stings so much has to do with the fact that the challenges of getting the wireless signal inside apartment buildings and other densely-populated urban landscapes worsens the digital divide it was meant to cure.

PHILADELPHIA WEEKLY: A few weeks back in this space, I criticized PW for promising a “cross-section of Philadelphians” weighing in on the Geno’s English-only flap but delivering a fairly predictable list of community activists and other familiar faces. This week, PW comes correct with a story that seems to have started out being about violence in the city in general but quickly became a reflection by real, live, average Philadelphians, on the murder of Ofc. Chuck Cassidy:

I used to live in Center City. I work in the city, but at nighttime I’m not pw__x00107pw.jpg comfortable. I saw somebody get shot in my old neighborhood. A guy was running down the street, and a dude just shot him for no reason. My next-door neighbor said, ‘Do me a favor—give me a ride. I have to go get my aunt.’ So I took him to Southwest. He goes into the house; I hear boom boom boom. He comes out, points the gun at me, and says, ‘Take me home,’ with a couple bad words. I took him home, and I went right to the police station and reported it. I was like, ‘I’m out. Done.’ That’s when I left.”

That was from a plumber named Jim who later quit the city for DelCo. Another guy says it simply: “If they shoot cops, there’s no telling who they’ll shoot next.” A Dad says that while he’s none too happy to see one son headed for the military, “I’d rather him over there than out here.” Parents talk about the lack of respect for senior citizens, for authority, for anything that they see in young people these days. Finally, a roofer named Mark lays it all out:

“Officer Cassidy’s out there protecting the earth, and he got murdered. These people don’t have a spiritual life. They don’t have respect for anybody. This is getting to be a deadly city. The devil does terrible things to a mind. The devil can destroy a person.”


PW: Debbie Harry’s looking for a man who’s “not afraid of me,” to which we say join the club, sister. I’m grateful for this story about David Terry aka Aqueduct, because hopefully it will stop the unconscious mental word association that kicks when I hear about this band and makes me think Aqualung instead. Yikes. Kia Gregory on the city’s gun crisis.

CP: To be honest, wi-fi’s a been-there, done-that kind of topic and I wish the story about the PPA scofflaw who made a cool $1,200 by letting them auction off his crappy car had been the cover, but I guess they have news editors for such things. There’s a trio of winning entries from the First Person Memoir Writing competition, and Two Minutes with a founding member of the local chapter of Iraq Veterans Against The War.

WINNER: PW, by a scofflaw

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