PAPERBOY: Slow-Jamming The Alt-Weeklies

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: A.D. Amorosi takes a look at Quixote, a boundary-crossing theater production based on “Don Quixote,” being staged at Broad Street Ministries. BSM, which Amorosi dubbed the “hipster church” in an Inquirer article, is a church where people from all segments of society regularly break bread together during worship and “No Barriers” dinners, and Quixote mirrors that mix, with a cast of professional actors, homeless Philadelphians, and other seekers from the BSM congregation. Amorosi talks with the two true believers who are making it happen, BSM pastor Bill Golderer and New York-based theater director Lear deBessonet.

One story Golderer tells about “Philadelphia’s Most Dangerous Dinner Party” — his nickname for “No cp_2009_05_14.jpgBarriers” — revolves around its initial shot in 2007.

“When we had the first one and tried to see how many different folks we could get, one person who attended the church when it was Chambers-Wylie tugged at my sleeve when she saw 400-plus people,” says Golderer. “‘Preacher, you have to give these people a word,’ she said to me, referring to some gospel notion. And I was like, why? This is the word. Look at this crazy assembly of people sharing a meal and stories of their lives.”

These stories are what turned deBessonet on after having gone to BSM for a fleeting few months. She made the ministry the driving force for Quixote and its tale of radiant idealism in a morbidly horrific world.

The “misery montages” throughout Quixote that start as “shadow plays” are a mix of puppetry and live human interaction based on what she witnessed and how she processed it. The ensemble beats and thrashes each other through a rich choreography of movement. Her stumbling hero enters.

It’s aspirational but realistic, taking on real-life violence and suffering, but the story is really about inspiration and vision — where did the idea to minister to the homeless come from? Or the idea to involve them in a theater production? Ultimately, those things don’t come like a thief in the night or in the flashing of an eye. People fight for them and struggle with them, and sometimes they even come about from tilting at windmills.

PW: A pierced tongue licking a phallic popsicle: what about Philly does this suggest to you? OK, other than South Street. Anyway, this is PW attempting to lure you into the Summer Guide. It’s another patchwork episode, a la the Queer issue from a few weeks ago, with a mix of lifestyle pieces centering around summer’s invitation to expose some skin and spend more time outdoors. There’s Steven Wells railing against the shaved-armpit establishment, Joel Mathis celebrating curvy women, and a surprising and thoughtful appraisal of the lower-back tattoo AKA the tramp stamp.

Web sites like Trampstampnation.net project pride in body ink and encourage members to sign up and post cover_1.jpgtheir personal tramp-stamp photos. There’s even a shout-out to “those of us that might be a little conservative” to join the website and live vicariously through proud tramp-stamp owners.

But for Fishtown resident Jen Spencer, the tattoo’s slang name brought up a different emotion: horror.

“I thought, ‘Oh my god. My dad is gonna hear that name and he knows I have a lower back tattoo,’” says Spencer, who wasn’t aware of the term “tramp stamp” until after she got inked there.

While in cases like Spencer’s, tattoo terminology might cause a harmless misunderstanding, there is such a thing as trying to strike gold a little too young. Mattel came under fire in early March of this year for releasing a Totally Stylin’ Tattoos Barbie doll that came with more than 40 temporary tattoos. Yet that’s nothing compared to Dolltattoos.com, which customizes tattoos for Barbie and Ken. And yes, the site has 15 varieties of classic “tramp stamp” designs, labeled as such.

One of these things is not like the others, of course: May is Masturbation Month, don’tcha know, so Liz Spikol’s piece is current, but not exactly summer-y. Exposing flesh in that manner should be kept indoors.

INSIDE THE BOOK

CP: Another election, another coinflip. Charles Cohen: “ominous atmospheres and frightening noise” are just the beginning. It’s the season of rash predictions: first, swine flue; now, baseball. Art born out of discomfort.

PW: Looking for love in all the wrong places. Asher Roth: how the mighty and cover-worthy have fallen. “…whether pig or cow is beast préféré“: French in a BBQ article? Body piercing: Do you have a Prince Albert in a can?

WINNER: Lately, it’s been either in-over-their-heads cover stories on hip-hop or no cover story at all for PW. That inconsistency, along with this week’s guide to makingwhoopie in public (yuck), hands the title to CP and its well-executed cover story.

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