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: Transsexual organist trying to break into an often-conservative church community… where have I heard this before? Oh, right, in PW, in the strange, lip-service-y “queer issue” from a few weeks back. I’m not gonna go on some rant about scooping or stealing story ideas, though. The PW piece on T. Desiree Hines was a straight-forward interview, and a thoughtful one, but Carolyn Huckabay’s CP piece digs a lot deeper, going into Hines’ Mississippi roots, her early feelings of difference (brilliant anecdote: throwing a tantrum over a doll at age 3) and her present life in Philadelphia.
Today, Desiree is comfortable in her own skin. A Gemini on the verge of 30, she lives in University City and keeps herself more than busy. She works a handful of part-time jobs — she’s a church organist, caterer, site manager for Wilma Theater’s subscription campaign — and surrounds herself with an ever-growing network of friends who can’t help but gravitate toward her gregarious, larger-than-life personality.
Desiree identifies as a woman who happens to be transsexual, still waiting until the time is right and money is there — according to a University of Michigan study, anywhere from $30,000 to $40,000 in the U.S. — to undergo sex-reassignment surgery. But while it may take years for Desiree to raise the funds for a vaginoplasty, not much else keeps this woman — and from her done-up hair to her sensible heels, she is all woman — waiting.
The other advantage that the CP version has is proximity to this weekend’s GLBT Arts Festival, and Hines, as the Festival’s director, addresses the programming and the thinking behind it in a way she couldn’t have a month ago. “Gregarious” seems an understatement — Hines comes off as downright magnetic — and saying someone’s “on a mission,” though cliched, rings true here. Even after her musical training was forestalled, Hines made herself into an organist. After other institutions bristled at an openly transsexual, she found her way to others and went about setting up some of her own. A simple Q&A can’t bring that to light. Kudoes for taking the story — wherever they found it — and running with it.
PW: Survivalists are no longer bearded, bonkers Ted Kaczynski-types, and they’re not holed up in cabins in the wilderness. They might be your friends and neighbors here in Philly, and they’re just like you and me — but maybe just a little more on edge. Take PW cover guy and Kensington native Fernando Salguero:
These days the bespectacled, stocky guy rocks a black goatee and earns his living selling water and air purification and filtration systems. It’s a subject Salguero is more than a little passionate about. But it’s not the only topic that excites him.
Google his name and you’ll find his footprints all over websites aimed at the dissatisfied and the suspicious, from moveon.org to the 9/11 Truth Movement.
Given his early contact with both Third World living conditions and some of the more mundane aspects of nuclear warfare, it’s not surprising that Salguero isn’t convinced that civilization in its current form is going to continue for much longer. He believes that a cataclysm will occur and that with the exception of himself, his loved ones and those he teaches, his species is horribly unprepared. When megamillion death comes a-courting it could be in one of any of a thousand guises, and Salguero is familiar with all the major suspects.
Steven Wells, go-to chronicler of all manner of bizarre subcultures, gives a mostly just-the-facts picture of Salguero’s group, Survive and Thrive, and the myriad other organizations who are heralding the arrival of end times. Wells’ balance between letting the new generation of survivalists have their say and placing those views within the current strain of American nutjobbery seems just right, and I love how he sticks in the apocalyptic dates of the Mayan and Hopi calendars. He doesn’t flinch or scoff at the guns or the theories that have motivated their purchase — well, maybe the zombie ones — as he captures the tenor of the times. I, for one, don’t believe we’re doomed, but now I can see how someone might get that impression.
INSIDE THE BOOK
CP: Green Day, back in the bad old days. A neat little stunt, but what’d you drink? Lots of deserving restaurants would have liked to have that spot for a review. For those who thought the Metropolitan Opera House was in NYC. Flustered in Flushing: you can’t spell “Citi Field” without “DL.”
PW: Enough said: “P. Diddy is the Tony Robbins of the hip-hop game. ” Droppin’ science about ceviche: ODB would be proud. A growing population and their preferred, shrinking medium. Jamie Moyer is the Phillies’ “steadfast conscience” AND their bloated ERA.
WINNER: Two really solid cover stories propping up flimsy issues this week, but I think I’ve gotta go with CP. Mets bashing is all fine and good, but to actually prove they suck with stats and stories — that’s just brilliant.