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: A little prognostication this week, as E. James Beale profiles Temple hoopster and Philly native Dionte Christmas, sizing up his chances in the upcoming NBA draft. Beale makes us cheer for Christmas even as a frank assessment of his skills shows us that, like everything in Philly sports, nothing is guaranteed.

Next Thursday is the NBA draft, and Dionte Christmas is on the bubble. Most mock drafts have the cp_2009_06_18.jpghigh-scoring guard going toward the beginning of the second round. For the past month, Christmas, 22, has been flying around the country to tryouts, exhibiting his skills and trying to improve on that. He was hoping his hometown team might take a flier on him. Now, probably, they won’t. Christmas is not a point guard. Christmas, like Kapono, is a shooter.

Five minutes after our conversation, now outfitted head-to-toe in workout gear, he begins to show it. He rises up from beyond the three-point line and easily drains a jumper, then steps back and hits another, then another, then another, just like he did 107 times last season and 319 over his college career — both Temple University records. On the court and in front of the cameras, he doesn’t look like the guy who’s worried about an NBA journeyman stealing his dream; he looks like the first guy to ever lead the Atlantic 10 in scoring three years in a row (no one else has done it even twice). Tomorrow, he’ll go to a tryout in New York. He’s hoping the Knicks still need a shooter.

Beale is equal parts journalist and talent scout in this piece, and to strong effect. He breaks down Christmas’ technique, measures how he stacks up with other current NBA talent — a comparison with Michael Redd, an All-Star in Milwaukee whose career took several years to take off, is particularly apt — and shows him to be the hard-working, thoughtful type that pro sports needs more of. Christmas’ odds do seem somewhat slim, but Beale frames that hard truth rather eloquently: “ForDionte, you don’t get the feeling that would be the end of the world. He’ll have a degree, his family and the opportunity to make good money playing basketball somewhere.” Big cheers for both player and writer here.

PW: I’ve never been a skater — my sense of balance is wobbly at best — but I’ve moshed, drank and hung out with many a skate enthusiast over the years. Catherine Caperello’s account of a citywide crackdown on skaters redoubles the sense of solidarity I’ve long felt with them. It seems they’re becoming the victim of some unnecessarily harsh treatment.

coverskate_1.061709Ever since skateboarding was banned from public places in Philadelphia back in 2002, the rules of the cat-and-mouse game between cops and skaters has been simple: The cops come and the skaters run. In the past, when skaters were apprehended, officers just removed the bolts from the wheels, preventing the owner from riding. Sometimes cops would break the boards or make a kid do a trick to get their board back. Worst-case scenario, skaters were arrested or ticketed or verbally reprimanded.

But skaters say the rules have changed recently, and the new protocol is the stuff police brutality videos are made of. The game has turned into an extreme sport —even more dangerous than skateboarding itself. Kids says cops have gone from ticketing or arresting skateboarders to chasing them with Tasers drawn, tackling them, body-slamming them, clotheslining them and grabbing them by the neck.

The ensuing quotes from both skaters and cops (though, apparently, district captains declined to comment or did so too late to run) really give the sense of a small-scale culture war, where a harmless form of recreation, transportation and entertainment has been criminalized without real cause. One cop quotes cites destruction of stone tiles and the setting up of ramps, but where’s the current infrastructure damage? What’s to stop a cop from harassing a skater who’s just passing through and not making any effort toolly or do other tricks? The article could use one thing — a direct citation of the language in the police code that made skating illegal — but apart from that, it’s a clear and thoroughly reported picture of a city with misguided priorities. Vibrant and welcoming public spaces need skaters.


CP: Music via plastic raygun. Birds taking over; Tippi Hedren has been notified. Words I thought would describe a work of art, rather than a bar: “a convivial mix of light and noise.” Speaking of bars: go Sidecar, boo city.

PW: Dead Cat Syndrome: fake and offensive, but crying out to become a band name. Enough already: I’m on the verge of committing Kade-icide. Barbecue uber alles, and I, for one, welcome our new Southern overlords. SEPTA’s post-Quiet Car honeymoon is over.

The space devoted to Arthur Kade in PW automatically cedes the title to CP. I’m serious. We’re way past 15 minutes of ignominy passing as fame.

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