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. That’s why every week, PAPERBOY does your alt-weekly reading for you. 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 center. Why? Because we love you!
ON THE COVERS
CITY PAPER: Long story short: Grumpy old men bond in front of the abortion clinic, rendered affectingly by Doron Taussig. I’m not sure exactly what it is that brings John Dunkle — an anti-choice activist who seems about a half-step away from Erich Robert Rudolph — and Erich Schmidtt — a pro-choicer who seems sane if only because he’s not the one quoted in the story approving the killing of abortion doctors — together in friendship, or how the women who must face both these men on their way into the Planned Parenthood office in Reading feel watching their little buddy movie play out during what is probably one of the more difficult moments in life.
Of course, John could tick off Erich, too. Another morning, they were standing out front of the clinic when a particularly baby-faced girl came walking up. Without ever looking at her, John went into his mantra. “Don’t kill your daughter, don’t kill your son,” he said.
Erich looked at the girl, and he looked at John, and he got this incredible urge to just paste the guy. Shaking with anger, he slipped inside the clinic to calm himself down. The clinic manager was standing by the door.
“That girl looked like she couldn’t have been older than 15,” Erich said.
“Fourteen,” the manager replied. “Impregnated by a 22-year-old man, incidentally.”
I know, I know, I’m supposed to be thinking about what a well-written rumination on friendship this is (true), and how interesting it is to see someone walking on that thin ledge between religious zeal and extremist fanaticism (also true). Maybe I’m supposed to be thanking God that Dunkle has rational people like Schmidtt in his life, but I can’t get past my weary anger at the way people — OK, men — bring their own agendas to the abortion debate.
Each has tried his best to show the other the error of his ways. John tries to tell Erich that he is acting as his own God — that if there’s no divine standard, and Erich can make his own definition of a human being, then so can Hitler, and so can Pol Pot. Erich, of course, is happy to discuss what kind of standard the Catholic Church offers. He has brought in a Bible and read to John, challenging him to defend the content.
Maybe the pro-life guy would be better off in church, or out in the community getting involved in the lives of young people so they don’t get pregnant in the first place. Then the pro-choicer wouldn’t have to spend his days escorting scared young girls who are trying to undertake a perfectly legal medical procedure and both of these old men could stay home and mind their own business.
PHILADELPHIA WEEKLY: Kia Gregory profiles Michael Coard, the defense attorney trying to keep cop killer John Lewis from death row. Coard is one of those tiresome windbag types who tries to use rhetoric to cloud a seemingly straightforward sequence of events. Guy walks into a Dunkin’ Donuts, whips out a gun and holds up the place. Cop walks in. Guy shoots cop, steals his gun and flees. But to Coard, it’s like this:
He then presents the five degrees of murder, from first degree, which carries a penalty of life in prison or the death penalty, to involuntary manslaughter, which carries a stint of two and a half to five.
“Let’s say hypothetically he did it,” he says about Lewis. “Let’s say hypothetically that many of the young black men — too many — in and around Philadelphia are committing similar crimes. There are two explanations as to why young black men commit a disproportionate number of crimes. One is the lack of opportunity due to the legacy of slavery and current racism and discrimination, or that young black men are genetically predisposed to crime. Clearly they’re not genetically predisposed to crime. So what if a John Lewis or anybody like him was able to graduate from high school like many white boys and get a decent job like many white boys? If John Lewis or people like him got the same opportunities that middle-class white boys got in America, you wouldn’t see people like him committing crimes like this.”
But in the same breath Coard argues that he doesn’t buy into “those bullshit, weak-kneed excuses that the white man is keeping us down.”
Yawn. Wake me up at the sentencing hearing, OK? The thing I really don’t get about this guy is how he makes these arguments after telling this great story about how he chose NOT to stab someone back in the day and “there but for the grace of God go I.” Which proves life is about choices, until you find a lawyer who’ll say it’s whitey’s fault.
INSIDE THE BOOK
CP: Wow, a $12 tip on a $280 dinner bill — now that’s a shitty tip! What’s that, you say you spent part of the meal snickering at the diners’ use of the wrong cutlery and their wine selections? Well, here’s another tip: Try not being a presumptuous a-hole and your customers might like you more. Heating it up at the Concert for Oil. Obama is black power!
PW: Super Bowl Sunday? I’ll take Dan Deacon over Tom Brady any day. As the Metro turns. Actors other than Heath Ledger who died too young. River Phoenix is not on the list.
WINNER: PW, because I hate religious fanatics more than blowhard lawyers