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!


CP: First, PW hits us with Steven Wells’ naked ass. Not to be outdone, CP lays a kinda John-and-Yoko-“Two Virgins”-on-a-bike cover shot on us. Where will the alt-weekly ass-war end? Anyway, gluteal matters aside, Isaiah Thompson delves into biking in the city and the steps it would take to turn Philly from a good bike city – it’s “flat and compact, with a big biking population” already, he says – into a great bike city. He, and many others, are dreaming big: close MLK Drive to car traffic, and then turn your sights to Center City.

Among the smaller ideas being floated are things like better signage and more bike parking. Council cp_2009_06_04.jpgrecently passed legislation requiring new large construction projects to include racks or other amenities for stowing bikes.

The bigger, more intriguing idea is to create some kind of bike-friendly east-west and north-south connectors running through the heart of Center City.

Broad Street, Chestnut and Walnut will be closed completely to all cars.

No, just kidding. In fact, none of the largest streets seem likely to be targeted, even for a humble bike lane…

Right now, the focus is on a couple of smaller, one-way streets between South and Walnut — probably Pine and Spruce. They are two-lane, one-way streets going in opposite directions. One possibility: Remove a lane of traffic from each, widen the other lane, and put in a nice big bike lane.

I’m not a Philly two-wheeler – not yet, anyway – but it seems like the Center City issues should have been addressed before getting around to the recreational use ofMLK and Kelly Drive; as Thompson himself says, “The future of bikeable cities isn’t recreation, but transit.” On top of that, how about more on the possibility of bike-sharing, helmet-sharing, providing locks, or placing additional racks in high-traffic areas? All of those seem just as important as setting up bike lanes to get people who aren’t biking yet to consider it. Thompson makes a strong attempt at an often-discussed topic, but as long as he’s throwing things out there, there are even more unexplored possibilities.

PW: Tara Murtha tackles a health crisis that, though not yet widespread in our area, is deeply troubling, generating a growing wave of attention. She starts with Victoria Speakman , an 18-year-old Northeast Philly resident, and a common, widely-advertised treatment that didn’t have the desired effects, to say the least.

gardcover_1.jpgVictoria received her first shot of Gardasil in November 2007. Then a junior at Philadelphia Academy Charter School, she was eager to earn her driver’s license, a teen’s ticket to freedom—and to her aunt’s Jersey shore house, where Victoria loves to hang out and go parasailing.

The needle went in smoothly, pumped the first dose into her arm muscle and nothing happened. Everything was fine.

The second shot was in February 2008. Later that day, Victoria was hit with diarrhea and vomiting that continued for the next eight weeks. Doctors called it a stomach virus. Then new seemingly neurological symptoms began to surface: chronic exhaustion, temporarily paralysis, brain fog and tremors. Her first seizure was on March 31, 2008.

For a while, a health aide escorted Victoria through school hallways. But before long, everyone agreed the seizures were too much for both Victoria and for the students watching. She tried to keep up with the rest of her class through a distance-learning program on her laptop, but just couldn’t deal with it.

Victoria’s mother Jodi has banded together with other concerned parents to take on Merck, the company that produces Gardasil, marketed as an anti-HPV vaccine, as well as the FDA and CDC, who continue to recommend it despite the rising tide of ill teenage girls. A definitive link has yet to be proven, so high-profile doubters likeCHOP’s Dr. Paul Offit , continue to hold sway. The article shows the signs of fine reporting and a pervading sense of the risk inherent in science and new technologies, ultimately raising difficult questions – What’s the true of modern existence? Are hundreds of sick girls the price society pays for thousands more healthy ones? – to which there are no answers.


CP: Dumb and offensive is just a drop in the Internet’s digital ocean. Decision time: too many shows! Philly’s other world champs. Worth exploring: the roots of root beer.

PW: Entrepreneurship at its most delicious. Dept. of Like Taking Candy from a Baby: Making conservatives angry. Yo! PW Raps continues: rappers declaring “No CDs. No pauses” in their live show, and a couple more dropping gay pride in their rhymes.

For their ass-free cover and sharp medical-investigation skills, PW takes it this week. And willl somebody burn those bikeseats from the CP cover?

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