PAPERBOY: Fall Guys And Crazy Cabbies Edition

paperboyartthumbnail.jpgBY DAVE ALLEN 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 COVER

PW: This week’s Wall Street troubles delivered the news in all caps: the economy blows, and times are hard. Scrimping ain’t easy, but PW’s Fall Guide tells you how to thrive while staying thrifty. Great tips from Alli Katz on bikes and Brian McManus on staying well-read, and Joel Mathis puts us wise to one of the greatest online, on-the-cheap resources: Hulu.

Here’s how to get cheap cable: Don’t get cable. You don’t need it if you have a halfway decent Internet pwfallguide.jpgconnection. Just about everything you want to watch—except for live sports—is available online. Hulu.com is the grandaddy of free, legal video sites. It’s home to most NBC and Fox shows, as well as The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. What makes Hulu even better, though, is that it carries a ton of old shows and movies—some great (Arrested Development, Firefly, Raising Arizona) and some fun to watch for camp or time-killing reasons (Blacula, Jumanji).

I can personally vouch for the Arrested Development availability, so you, too, can taste the happy. Tastes more like free. Elsewhere in the guide, some dicey advice about keeping pets. Animal companionship is nice, but vet bills can be brutal, whether it’s for worm pills or rodent dentistry. If I want fur, I’ll take the critters and Robin Williams’ forearms in Jumanji, thanks.

CP: Isaiah Thompson takes a tough but fair look at Roy Blount, embattled president of the Unified Taxi Workers Alliance of Pennsylvania. It details entanglements with the Parking Authority and Blount’s own legal troubles — he attempted to resign when he learned how deeply Thompson had dug — but it also traces his roots to Northeast Philadelphia and reveals the depth of his commitment to labor and its livelihood in the city.

cp_2008_09_18.jpgBlount believes cabbies need to be thinking broader than just meter rates. Over the last few years, he’s built an extensive network of allies. When the Inquirer revealed last November that the PPA was flush with revenue, despite having failed to deliver $20 million promised to Philadelphia public schools, Blount and other members of the alliance joined Parents United for Public Education in demonstrating against the agency. When the social justice group Jobs with Justice staged an event calling attention to the lack of benefits for security guards at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Blount and his members were there, too. When the PPA held a hearing to discuss proposed changes in their regulations, TWA-PA flooded it with drivers and allies. Much to the PPA’s annoyance, the activists took over the meeting.

Blount has been a grassroots organizer, careful never to stray far from the places where cabbies gather. He spends obsessive hours at 30th Street Station and the airport, listening to driver concerns and doing what he can to follow up. When a cabbie close to him gets sick, Blount has been known to drive his cab for him, turning over the money he makes; when a driver is wounded on the job, Blount visits the house — something PPA authorities never do. And yet, he’s also visited the offices of Mayor Michael Nutter, Gov. Ed Rendell, Speaker of the House Dennis O’Brien and House Rep. Tony Payton.

The assault charges against Blount are no joke, but Thompson isn’t slinging mud here. Blount will be a driving force as the city’s cabbies fight for their rights, president of TWA-PA or not. Blount’s efforts make the recent screeds against community organizers seem even more baffling. He’s got your “real responsibilities” right here. Hail, hail.

INSIDE THE BOOK

PW: A sigh of relief in West Philly, but wherever you live in Homicide City, stay vigilant. Crap-itol Steps: a political reporter holds his nose in Harrisburg. Lastly, in honor of Constitution Day, how about some freedom of religion for Iliyaas Muhammad and Kimberlie Webb? Ramadan kareem, friends.

CP: A blitzkrieg interview with no blunders: score one for Joe Biden. Viva la revolucion: the Center City/Central America connection. For a Germantown artisan, the glass is more than half-full. Blackholes and revelations: the universe’s origins, illustrated.

WINNER: Hard-hitting, newsworthy stuff abounds this week, but it’s a culinary affair that puts CP over the top this week. Nope, not the Distrito review, but the news of Chickie’s and Pete’s landmark-Crab Fry beer giveaway. If you need me, I’ll be at 15th and Packer, gorging my way toward 5 million. Peace.

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