PAPERBOY: Bowlers, Bugs and Bullets Edition

paperboyart.thumbnail.jpgBY 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.

ON THE COVER

CITY PAPER: You know Brian Christinzio, even if you’ve never met the dude — or at least, that’s the feeling you get after reading the story of this past terrible, beautiful year in the life of the B.C. Camplight musician. Is he a musical craftsman, a hopeless hypochondriac or just . . . crazy? Or is that just another way of calling him a tormented genius? He doesn’t have ALS, or cancer, or any other of the life-threatening maladies he’s been convinced he’s had over the years, but he does have a music career taking off and a girlfriend who sounds strong and willing enough to stand by him:

Steph Vernacchio, his girlfriend and roommate (and friend for the past decade and a half — they met in grade school), was the one holding the camera. For the most part she keeps the shot tight and steady on his face, though she does zoom in at one point, slowly, until one huge eye takes up the entirety of the frame.

When the zoom can zoom no more, it lingers frustrated, like a dog at the end of its chain wanting tocp_2007-11-29.jpg go farther, deeper, into the head of the man.

And she asks him questions.

How do you feel?

What did the doctor tell you today?

His answers are slow and muddled. He says he’s not well.

The tests today, the EMGs, reported no fasciculation.

“Right,” he replies.

Not anything. With that high-tech machine.

She did this several times, pointed the camera at her boyfriend at his absolute lowest. While Christinzio is in the kitchen, watching the screen, Steph is on the couch in the living room, rooting around in the camera bag for more tapes. Then she lets out a soft gasp and pulls out a small bottle of pills. It’s the Ativan she hid from Brian months ago. She clutches it in both hands and quietly darts past the kitchen doorway and up the stairs to find a new hiding spot for it.

 

Since that video was shot, Christinzio’s spent 21 days in a mental institution, developed and — at least, for now — kicked a dependence on Ativan, had a song on “Gray’s Anatomy” and did some dates in the U.K. Things are looking up, but you get a sense he’s going to live in the white-knuckle zone of sobriety and sanity for a while. Maybe forever. Tomorrow night, he’ll play Johnny Brenda’s.

For a while there, Christinzio was telling reporters that he’d visited mental hospitals for inspiration and research for Blink of a Nihilist — never mind that his visit to “the bin” came after recording was finished.

Sometimes they ask him if his illness affects his songwriting. He has to laugh. “I was like, are you asking me if my brain influences my writing? Do your lungs influence your breathing? Does your heart influence you from not being dead?” he says with a smile. “It’s always been like that. I’ve always had this capacity to be ill.”

He’s much more comfortable talking about it now, although he’s anxious about the light it’ll cast him in. He’s not Elliott Smith. His melodies are playful and upbeat. His lyrics are driven by quirky images and humor.

“I don’t really want it to seem like a ploy. I’m really not interested in Tortured Soul Makes Music.”

PHILADELPHIA WEEKLY: OK, I’m just going to say right out that MRSA skeeves me. The pimples, the pus, the whole killer bacteria thing is a Cheerio-spitter for yours truly. But like that time I conquered my clown phobia and covered the Seaside Heights Clown Parade, I am ready to do the hard work this whole journalism thing requires. But seriously? Eww.

pwsuperbug.jpgThe virus has become the ultimate boogieman—invisible, practically invincible and able to survive on inanimate objects for weeks. The message: No one is safe from this menace.

Cautionary tales of the killer lurking in hospitals, gyms, schools and nursing homes have been splashed across nearly every news source, leaving many shocked and confused by all the conflicting information surrounding the so-called superbug.

The tenor and volume of MRSA news coverage has left most of us struggling to separate hyperbole from cold, hard fact. The truth is that MRSA does indeed pose a public health threat. But how much of a threat it poses remains an open question.

The fact is that MRSA isn’t new — the scary new twist is that more dangerous strains once usually only seen in hospitals, where the real germs are, are now being passed around in gyms, on college campuses and other casual-contact places and often, symptoms don’t show up for weeks, making it hard to say where and how you picked it up. And once you get it, that’s where the antibiotic resistance comes in. The bottom line? Wash your frickin’ hands, you filthy curs.

While those infected with MRSA should wash a couple times a week with an antimicrobial soap—the same stuff hospitals use to wash skin in surgery—any old soap will do for those just looking to keep clean and germ-free.

And that’s the message that’s been lost in the media melodrama: Germs can be transmitted through close contact with people, personal items such as razors and towels, and even pets. But if you wash your hands, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, cover any open cuts or scrapes with a bandage, and keep yourself and your surroundings clean, you’ll help keep everything from MRSA to the common cold at bay. Which is not exactly a news flash.

INSIDE THE BOOK

CP: Someone sent the CP editor a letter that included two hollow-point bullets and a thinly-veiled reference to killing cops. After reporting it and much soul-searching, Duane decides to share and we say “Amen.” Via Mother Jones, a look at where the presidential candidates are on the Iraq thing; is the VA making local vets easy prey for thieves?

PW: Chef Anthony Bourdain hates puppy-huggers and vegetarians, loves foie gras and just became even sexier than he already was. M.I.A. as multiculturalist-in-chief; time for Supper!

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