PAPERBOY: ‘Knocked Up & Lonely In Olney’ 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: Count me among those who didn’t know a thing about the overlooked Olney neighborhood before encountering CP’s cover. To me, Olney was a subway stop way up Broad near LaSalle. Not even close. In addition to laying out the geography, Brian Howard sums the ‘hood up nicely with this graf:

When people who think about Olney talk about Olney, they mention these 30-some ethnic groups that makecp_2009_02_19.jpg up the neighborhood. From the German, Irish and Ukrainian, to Korean, Vietnamese and Cambodian, to West African to Caribbean to African-American, Olney has been transformed over the last three decades from a mostly white area to what may be the most diverse neighborhood in the city. Perhaps people are drawn here because it’s far enough from Center City to be affordable but close enough to the Fern Rock Transportation Center to be accessible. Or perhaps it’s because, as longtime state Rep. Mark Cohen points out, Olney High School is one of the most linguistically diverse schools in the area, at one point offering programs in some 70 different languages.

Howard doesn’t just paint the neighborhood in broad strokes, though. He goes deep in corner stores, senior centers and Fisher Park, the heart of the community. A little more of the Korean-American perspective might have been nice – thegraf with Jin Yu is pretty scant – but Michael T. Regan’s photos more than fill the gap. They’re colorful and vibrant, and the one of the Dwenjang jjigae makes me want to trek all the way up there, find the H Mart, and get myself some yaki mondu. I’m not even worried about standing out. It seems like I’d be accepted as part of the mix.

PW:
After Bristol Palin finally dropped her fetus back in December, I figured we were done with teen pregnancy. I figured JV could retire his “Juneau” graphic and I could forget thatPalin and her brood, not to mention that charming-at-first-then-grating movie, ever existed. With this week’s cover from Jennifer Merrill, I saw that it was not to be. 18 year-old girl, good grades, college-bound, promising future… and then the fateful phone call with ominous test results.

As I hung up the phone, the tears came pouring out in tidal force. I was terrified. A million questions were running through my head. What was I going to do? What would my parents say? How could this happen to pwcover2_19_09.jpgme? All the while Angie rocked me back and forth, tears streaming down her face as well. We were both at a loss for words.

I eventually broke the silence. “I need to go home. I need to go home now,” I said, quickly rising and gathering my things. “I-I-I … Oh my God. I need to go.”

When I finally got buckled into my car, I began to sob hysterically. I rubbed my stomach, frightened yet in awe of the fact that a life was growing inside of it. As I drove, I dialed my boyfriend’s number. I needed to talk to him. I needed to hear his voice.

His phone rang and rang before the answering machine clicked on. I dialed the number again, hoping and praying that I wouldn’t have to hear that dumb automated lady telling me my “call has been forwarded to an automatic voice message system.” No answer.

The girl’s not from Philly and doesn’t live here now – kudos to her, though, for continuing with her education as best she can – so I’m not sure how this story earned the cover. I can appreciate the gesture of giving an aspiring young journalist some work, but it’s a first-person narrative rather than a fully reported story (A few weeks ago, Jacob Lambert showed there’s a right way to do this, though). There’s no jumping through the hoops of Temple administration, not much dealing with doctors or health-care providers, and no clear resolution between her and the baby’s daddy (were names changed to protect the paternal?). If it were a treatise on abstinence-only education, or on how her peers are treating her differently, it would be a different (and better) story, but mostly, it feels generic where it ought to feel personal. Call it “Bristol Light.”

INSIDE THE BOOK

CP: Amen to this: Man cannot live by TLA alone. I dig this bar and this review, but the place still gets periodically jammed with undergrads. Talkin’ Broadway on Broad Street: Tell Frank I love his column for me. Boo-urns to a tortured Simpsons reference here: You can’t force these things.

PW: Root-beer radicalism. Questionable taste alert: Lord Chesterfield? WTF? I believe this new column qualifies as a “major move.” Hating on Oberlin, huh? How did Liz Spikol let this through?

WINNER: CP by a mile, because a Philly-centric cover story goes a long way. PW is gonna have to score a big, Phils-related cover to make up for this.

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