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
CP: Science. It’s the title an Incubus album, rappers use it to refer to their rhymes, some girl blinded me with it back in the ’80s. But it’s not music that is headlining CP this week; it’s honest-to-Darwin scientific research, complete with the spirit of inquiry and controversial findings. Just the kind of thing an outgoing presidential administration that I could name has been trying to tamp down nationwide. But in the face of all that, some local researchers are making strides. At UPenn, you’ve got an accidental cure for baldness. At the Academy of Natural Sciences, a really funky (and possibly cruel) way of identifying toxins in fish. And for the first time since being named the ugliest campus in America, Drexel makes the news with an engineering prof who is tearing down the conventional wisdom about — no kidding — how the Pyramids were built.
Barsoum thought about quitting several times during his eight years of research on the project. “I did not want to be the guy to demystify the pyramids,” he says. “Mysteries are good for the soul, as long as you don’t take them too far. As long as you don’t go into conspiracy theories and all that.”
There’s always the little problem of getting lumped in with the non-scientific theories ancient Egypt seems to attract. There’s the idea that the pyramids were nuclear reactors, giant batteries or alien outposts, for instance.
“So many kooks, so many theories. Everybody and his brother has a theory about how they were made. And most of them are crackpots,” says Barsoum.
By comparison, his “concrete” concept should be a much easier sell to the science establishment, but he has certainly been met with resistance. When he gives his presentation at schools and conferences, he estimates he can convince 80 percent of an audience of the merits of his research. The remaining skeptics, he notes, sometimes become very angry. His blog, pyramids.blog.com, and inbox have seen their share of venomous comments. “You should see this one guy how he lays into me. It’s fascinating,” he says.
And I thought politicians and indie bands were the only who got vilified on the blogosphere! Damn. Nice work all around, by both writers and scientists. I could sure go for a fish milkshake right now.
PW: A bold proclamation on the cover: Mockstars are the new rockstars. Can it be true? Have tribute acts earned legitimacy? They may not command huge ticket prizes or touring fees – to say nothing of drug-fueled groupie sex – but many tribute bands, including Get the Led Out, a top-flight Led Zeppelin group based outside Philly, are earning major cred through their dedication to the original music.
…The members of Get the Led Out don’t dress the part of Zeppelin. Sinclair doesn’t employ a fake British accent when speaking to the crowd. When the group signs autographs after shows (and they do) they sign them with their own names, not the names of members of the band whose music they play, as some tributes do.
In fact, Sinclair and Hammond wince with pain at the very term tribute band. “It just reeks of impression to me,” says Sinclair, dismissively waving a hand adorned with more rings than most men wear in a lifetime.
“When I’m onstage I don’t think I’m Jimmy Page,” agrees Hammond. “I’m Paul Hammond playing guitar parts by Jimmy Page. Paul Sinclair is Paul Sinclair singing the lyrics of Robert Plant.”
BMac gives us a sense of the band’s chops and of how tribute bands of all kinds have proliferated and risen in the ranks of the musical hierarchy. Also, nice use of the StevenKurutz book to tie it all together. I’m surprised, though, that there’s no mention of the recently disbanded Lez Zeppelin, an all-female Zep tribute band? Surely there was room for them in the notebook-dump of acts at the end of the piece. Also worthy of exploration: Flight of theConchords, a different kind of mockstar, poking fun at rock-star pretensions. Or maybe I’m just really excited they’re back on TV.
INSIDE THE BOOK
CP: Brian Tierney: once a dick, always a dick. Blue in green: No big surprise you were depressed on Monday. I would eat anything this place puts between bread. Ira Glass? Meh. I’ll take his cousin Philip over him any day.
PW: A bar with gargoyles? I’m so there. SugarHouse = sticky mess. Those Fishtowners helped win us the election; leave ’em alone! No matter that they’re British, the inauguration definitely could have used some Floetry. Welcome to Philly, Jimmy. Hope you packed some sweaters, cuz Georgia doesn’t do winter like this.
WINNER: PW takes it because, as Otto the busdriver once said while going over a waterfall, “Zeppelin rules!” “Immigrant Song” seems rather appropriate right now: “We come from the land of ice and snow…” Brrr.