PAPERBOY: Special ‘Gimme Shelter” 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

CP: You might be tempted to give up on this year’s Grammy telecast. The nominations leave out more and more quality artists and recordings every year, and the live performances are often truncated, lip-synced or just downright bad. This year, though, you’ve got a local rooting interest. No, not Diplo (though I think he’s got the edge for Record of the Year). It’s Jazmine Sullivan, and Drew Lazor shows us her roots and her gospel-forged sound.

Joyce Johnson, who for close to 20 years has headed the St. Andrew’s youth department, including its youth cp_2009_02_05.jpgchoir, The Golden Specials, remembers the first time she heard Jazmine sing. She was at the Sullivan residence, working on music with Jazmine’s mother. “Pam wanted to teach me this song, so we could take it back to the choir,” says Johnson. “Jazmine was about 18 months old, in the playpen. Her mom gave me the soprano note, and she was singing the alto note.

Out of nowhere, the still-in-diapers Sullivan opened her mouth and tossed out the tenor part in pitch-perfect harmony.

“I got upset and left,” laughs Johnson. “I said, ‘I’m not going to stand here and let your 18-month-old baby out-sing me!”

Even if contemporary R&B isn’t your thing, it’s pretty amazing what Sullivan’s already seen and done: signed by Jive before she graduated high school, writing songs for American Idol winners. Like most profiles of any Philly-bred fast riser (see John Legend cover, July 3, ’08), it’s overly slick, with way too many space-filling lyric quotes. Still, it’ll make you wanna stand up and cheer for the girl, especially if she can knock off the Jonas Brothers and a coupla British lasses for Best New Artist. That, plus the Roots bumrushing the stage if Kanye or that “apple bottom jeans” song win anything, would restore my faith in the Grammys.

PW: Holy in-depth reporting, Batman! After a few weeks of scant (but still well-done) cover stories, Tara Murtha plunges into the Women Against Abuse shelter and the difficulties its employees and residents are facing. Big points for exploring an issue that’s been overlooked, as Murtha notes, in the face of “public outcry over libraries closing and a shortened Mummer’s parade.” It’s a public-minded but also very personal approach, starting with former resident-turned-counselor Stephanie Price.

pwpunch.jpgFor the past four years she’s been working full-time at the shelter. The road from terrified victim of domestic violence to working as a professional on the front lines has been winding and paved with pain. Talking with Price, you’d never guess what she had to put up with; she waves her good-natured tough-girl attitude around like a wand.

Maybe it’s a defense mechanism, but the positive vibe helps at work, where the 40-year-old spends her days helping women and their children cope with the emotional, practical and financial hurdles that come with escaping domestic violence. It’s not easy work, and though it took seven years to get around to it, Price says she always had it in the back of her mind to work here and give back to the community that saved her life…

Even if she keeps her job, for Price, the cuts are personal: She knows firsthand how hard it is to get back on your feet after surviving domestic violence, and now she sees it’s only getting harder for the thousands of battered women and their children trapped by poverty.

Anecotes with the stats to back them up: “Domestic violence results in $3 to 5 billion lost annually in absenteeism, decreased productivity and health and safety costs,” for starters. Nice gesture to tack on Price’s email address to the online edition, but the addinghotline — the one that Price said saved her life — would be a good move too. This is the real deal.

INSIDE THE BOOK

CP: Islands in the stream: That is what we want. SEPTA’s Quiet Car: I’ll take Maxwell Smart’s Cone of Silence any day. My real introduction to Big 5 basketball was seeing LaSalle stick it to my alma mater. “How cold the collective heart has grown”: Madness in the Motor City.

PW: Hey, that guy led my tour at Philadelphia Brewing last weekend! Glad he didn’t make us run. “…the place is a dump“: All kinds of PR problems for the libraries. A primer on music-blog hateration: wrong week for even a fake low-blow on Buddy Holly, though. Nice try, D-Mac, but bring back Beer Lass. Six recommendations > four.

WINNER: Two bold, strong women anchor both covers this week, but I gotta give the nod to PW. After so much sound and fury over the city’s budget, stories like the one Tara Murtha dug up have been largely under the radar. Not anymore, though. Bravo.

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