BY 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: Tara Murtha’s profile of filmmaker and hip-hop scholar M.K. Asante Jr. has the feeling of catching someone on the verge of making it big. Asante’s excitement, positivity, and thoughtfulness definitely come through — and how cool is his voicemail from Maya Angelou?
“Hello, M.K. Asante. This is Maya Angelou. You have a great piece of work here. I wish we could make 5 million, zillion copies. I wish we could have every black person sit down and watch it and listen. I wish every white person could sit down and listen. Congratulations.”
“I mean—is that deep? That’s so deep!” Asante says, shaking his head back and forth and beaming bright as a benchwarmer who somehow got up to the plate and smacked the ball out of the park.
“Getting that message was the ultimate,” he says, slapping the table.
The kid’s on fire. He hasn’t even touched his waffle.
Did Murtha pull some photographic memory trick when she heard that? If so, I’m impressed. Less impressive, though, are the spots where generality takes the place of Philly-centrism: the anecdotes about Friends Select School and the money quote about hailing from the Illadelph don’t come ’til way late. Asante’s taking off, no doubt, but the piece doesn’t quite do the same.
A few days before the DesignPhiladelphia meeting, Owen and I walked down to the Delaware River, then through Old City and Society Hill. Owen, wearing his habitual white T-shirt, jeans and black Chuck Taylors, is warm, self-assured and modest. His voice is gravelly, his eyes gleam. During our walk, he explained to me his design philosophy, to “harmonize material, cultural context and manufacturing process, to find clarity in an object.”
“I make an effort to pare away all that’s unnecessary,” he explained. What’s left should, as a practical matter, feel like “pure poetry.” His strong-selling flyswatter, made by Kikkerland, for example, was a reaction of sorts to one by French designer Philippe Starck. Starck’s flyswatter is meant to stand up, and “always be there when needed.” Though he understood the designer’s poetic intent, Owen found it “imperfectly balanced” — it would often fall over. His, in contrast, doesn’t need to stand up; it has a large doorknob hook and a magnet — and on the top, in the webbing, is a flat graphic image of a fly.
Great tidbits threaded in here — I didn’t know DesignPhiladelphia was quite so large or lofty — plus some of the lessons Owen’s importing from overseas that could turn Philly into another Milan. Turns out innovative design is closer to us than those fancy-ass vacuums at Target.
INSIDE THE BOOK
PW: Vanity yarmulkes? Sign me up! With all these role changes for the Janis Joplin movie, Nikka Costa should keep her schedule clear. Signs of the End of Days? I’m still waiting for dogs and cats living together, thanks. Tired political fulminating, now with 20% more obscure slang. Wackadoo? Swamp donkey?
WINNER: Props to PW this week for more multicultural coverage and another convincing argument. Last week’s cover story almost made me troop to Florida until I realized I don’t have grandparents there, but hearing about Asante’s “The Black Candle” has me crazed for Kwanzaa.