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: The Summer Book Quarterly says it’s a celebration of spontaneity and how there’s a perfect book for every whim. Maybe; not sure I buy this: “If your iPhone can’t tell you the answer to something, it probably isn’t worth knowing.” Here’s the truth: it’s the perfect weapon to combat apathy and Dan Brown paperbacks, and the lineup the CP has put together is certainly eclectic enough to jolt readers out of their routines. There’s a pop-culture memoir from the Onion’s head A.V. Club guy, a spine-jangling take on the rave scene, and a tale of what I’ll call “racial aspiration” that speaks to every too-white soul in search of a groove.

In the very first sentence of her poignant and often uproarious memoir, Mishna Wolff declares that she is cp_2009_06_11.jpgwhite. “My parents, both white,” she writes. Wolff establishes this fact — repeatedly — because her father, a white man, truly believes he is black. “He strutted around with a short perm, a Cosby-esque sweater, gold chains and a Kangol.” I’m Down recounts the author’s efforts to “integrate” in a mostly black neighborhood by overcoming her lack of rhythm, braiding her hair in cornrows and attending Baptist church.

Mishna’s perceptive voice — not to mention her impeccable comic timing — developed when she went to an all-black community summer camp and learned how to cap on other kids. Doing the dozens gave her a defense mechanism for coping with a miserable home life where meals and money were scarce. It also helped her develop a thick skin for dealing with being in the minority. Her observations about her family and herself are achingly funny and painfully true.

Come summertime, I’m usually content to hack through classics or revisit old favorites, but this list perked up my ears and made me think about tackling some fresher titles. I’m sticking with my other summer stand-by, though: sunscreen. Better white than bright red.

PW: Daniel Denvir takes on both labor and health care in a thoroughly reported piece on home healthcare assistants, which follows up nicely with Liz Spikol’s article on a homebound vet. Denvir starts out with assistant Brenda McFadden and her client Joe Pepe, but quickly widens the scope to take in an at-risk segment of the populace.

asst_1.jpgHomecare workers get injured on the job more often than construction workers and miners. According to Secretary of Labor and Industry Sandi Vito, 75 percent leave work within a year.

An attendant failed to show up the very morning of Pepe and McFadden’s interview with PW. McFadden depends on other attendants to help with certain tasks, like getting Pepe out of bed in the morning. When McFadden finally reached the no-show attendant, the woman told her that her son had been arrested.

“If there were a registry, we could have found someone [else to come in],” Pepe said.

McFadden agreed. “We’re always skating on thin ice. I never know who’s gonna quit, who’s not going to show up. That interrupts not only Joe’s life, but my life.”

It’s clear that homecare assistants fight an uphill battle against the strictures of Medicare and the intense demands of their work, and the push for a statewide Consumer Workforce Council has support from Governor Ed but not from the Republican-led Senate. It’s a frustrating statusquo , but even the wheelchair-bound Pepe is steeling himself for the fight: “People who come out to live on their own, they should be able to live life to the fullest, like we were promised in ourConstitution, right?” Pepe muses. “The people have got to take a stand.”


CP: Sadly, we have not seen the last of naked asses on bikes. What could beat an evening in scenic Chester? Hans Christian Andersen: Way more than The Little Mermaid. German food makes a comeback. Prost!

PW: Music criticism for old people. Not just Yoruba, or my-uba, it’s uba for everyone! I’ll have a side order of sunburn. I see a red door, and I… well, you know.

WINNER: CP takes it, for some solid book recommendations and because I can’t really blame them for the onslaught of naked asses we’re sure to face on September 6.

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