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: For the cinematically-minded, CP’s CineFest preview is gold: three pages of capsules, all of them snappy and persuasive. But for those less film-curious – and I’m that way, sadly – the two features aren’t particularly gripping. Sam Adams sums up two documentaries with an educational bent, touching on their subject matter but not really delving into their artistry or drama. Pressure Cooker has a local angle, though, with culinary arts students at Frankford High and Wilma Stephenson, their blunt, driven teacher.
A tense and sometimes terrifying figure, Stephenson lashes out at students who make careless mistakes, and can be positively scorching with those who fail to show the proper respect to her or her kitchen. “She has good intentions,” says Erica, one of three students the movie focuses on. “Just sometimes she has bad people skills.”
As her warning suggests, Miss Stephenson’s reputation precedes her. “They pretty much know what they’re in for,” she said last week, driving back from the annual competition that helps determine which students will receive scholarships to places like the Culinary Institute of America. “If I were a kid, I would really think before I took my class.”
Kassim the Dream, the story of an Ugandan child soldier turned boxing champ, cuts somewhat deeper, and Molly Eichel brings out the bond between fighter Kassim Ouma and manager Tom Moran amid international pressure and title bouts.
The fighter and mentor grew even closer when Ouma was set to fight for the USBA title, an entry-level title fight in October of 2002. Ouma had invited his mother and brother to fly from Uganda, but they were denied entry into the U.S. Moran immediately called the U.S. Embassy in Uganda, staying on the phone for three hours in the middle of the night. He claimed that even though the U.S. had given Ouma political asylum, it didn’t have the right to tell him that he couldn’t see his mother again. “We argued, we debated,” says Moran. “They finally said, ‘If we let his mother come in, will you get off the phone?’ and I said yes.”
Now there’s the drama.
PW: BMac sums up the last few months nicely in his header for the music section: “Old Man Winter’s all up in your shit, jackin’ with your good times.” PW puts its lovin’ arms around this spring’s coming attractions, including books, art exhibits, and theatrical stuff. Plus, a old-school, hard-hitting doc from CineFest called “The Wages of Spin.” (Love the title.)
The film lays out the complicated case in interviews and archival photographs. Payola wasn’t necessarily “Here’s $50—now go play my record.” It was more subtle (and more profitable): Dick Clark and others had their hands in pies running up and down the industry, from publishing companies to the physical record pressing plants. Disc jockeys cooked up deals that could guarantee profitability for years to come. And at the time, it was totally kosher.
“Dick Clark didn’t do anything different than what DJs were doing at the time,” says local legend Jerry “the Geator” Blavat on the phone from his Market Street studio. Blavat was one of the original Bandstand dancers. “It was common policy back at the time before the Senate committee got involved investigating payola. [It was just] that [Dick] was the biggest guy in the country.”
All those fresh-faced, sock-hopping youngsters in the grips of record-industry corruption… love it. I also love the header “What to Read When Smoking Weed,” but am puzzled by the random recs. Handwriting analysis? Scientific embryology? Whatever blisses you out, I guess.
INSIDE THE BOOK
CP: “We Could Do Worse”: Practically a ringing endorsement. False modesty from the Moz. Steak through the heart: Tony Luke’s goes frozen. “Duke Sucks, Pg. 16″: Well, you got my attention. Oh, and go ‘Nova. My bracket depends on you.
PW: If you don’t like Quizzo, find a different bar. Try ignoring Katy Perry and maybe she’ll go away. A crabby cinematic preview: they can’t all be this bad. Check out these glockenspiel-wielding grape dancers.
WINNER: I’m not convinced it’s spring yet – two years in upstate New York have made me wary of April cold snaps – but I like the optimism both papers show for bright sun and better days. CP gets the edge, though, because Sean Burns harshed PW’s buzz with his mopey movie write-up. Come on, man – no love for Wolverine?
BONUS POINTS: To GINA AND MATT for this week’s flat-out gorgeous PW cover.