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: A deep, serious look at an all-too-common crime that brought a surprising result: a life sentence, without possibility of parole, for a 14-year-old boy. Matt Stroud, a reporter from Point Park University’s Innocence Institute, digs into the story of Stacey Torrance, locked up 21 years ago for a murder that happened after he was dropped off at home following a robbery.
In the summer of 1988, Stacey Torrance lived in his mother’s house on 17th Street between Master and Jefferson in North Central Philadelphia. On a sweltering afternoon, he received a visit from Henry Daniels, his 23-year-old first cousin. They talked about a conspiracy — a robbery. Daniels knew Torrance was friends with a local girl, Sarita Porter, and that he was occasionally seen with Sarita’s 16-year-old brother, Alexander. Daniels had recently been released from an eight-month prison term for robbery in California. Broke and on the lookout for an easy score, he had moved back to Philly to start again…Daniels and his accomplice told Torrance and Porter to follow them to a house in Germantown. When they got there, they parked on the street. Both pairs walked to the front door.
They talked. Discussion turned to argument. Uncertainty transformed into anger. Daniels told Porter that Torrance had “ruined the drug deal.” Daniels and his accomplice were much older and much bigger than Torrance and Porter, so they pinned the boys to the ground. They bound Torrance, gagged him, and threw him into the back seat of Porter’s car — a ruse to trick Porter into thinking Torrance was uninvolved in the robbery, and that he would be killed for spoiling the transaction. Then they took Porter’s keys and sneakers, tied up his hands and feet, wrapped him in a blanket, stuffed a sock in his mouth, and threw him into the trunk of his own car. This was where Torrance says he extracted himself from the crime. He didn’t know what was going on, and when he went to trial, the district attorney acknowledged that Torrance was involved in the planning of an initial robbery and nothing more. For years, Torrance has insisted that he didn’t even know he was to be tied up. But he was. And he was driven home in silence.
The scene-setting has an unbearable tension, and long-after-the-fact reporting with Torrance, his mother and officials involved in trying to reform the justice system is coldly heartbreaking. Apparently Torrance is a model prisoner now, and he’s had no contact with any of his co-defendants, who are all on life sentences as well. The only misstep isStroud overplaying his hand and detailing the great lengths he went to research this story. My-job-is-so-tough-ism in writing does way less to win over readers than the results of all that research he did.
PW: BMac takes up the Gonzo mantle for some doped-up reportage on Camp Bisco, the Philly-bred Disco Biscuits’ summer bacchanal. He puts forth a funky piece that’s a little bit about the music, a lot about the scene, and an awful lot about the drugs that are readily available.
Right at the crossroads of Where the Fuck Are We and Who the Fuck Cares sits Mariaville, New York, and a 200-acre slice of heaven called the Indian Lookout Country Club. Lush, green hills are broken up by strategic tree lines. Catch the right place to sit, and you can see miles of rolling wooded hills that make up Schenectady County, and one of the world’s most gorgeous sunsets.
Most of the year Indian Lookout is dead, but things heat up during the summer. Every third week of June the grounds play host to the Harley Rendezvous, one of the nation’s most popular motorcycle rallies.
On this weekend, July 16 through 18, the land belongs to Camp Bisco—the largest, most drug-crazed electronic music festival on the East Coast.
Bisco is headlined each night by the Disco Biscuits, the Philadelphia band that founded the music fest. Now in its eighth year, ’09’s festival is the biggest yet, with 10,000 people camping out for the three-day brouhaha.
He captures some great moments — the ecstasy dealer offering “$10 roll” like it’s a food item — and boldly posits the Biscuits as “the biggest modern Philadelphia band not named the Roots.” ?Elsewhere, the piece is strange and faintly disgusting (lots of piss), and outside of two guys chatting about bongs, there are almost no interviews with actual campers. They ought to figure just as largely in the article as the Biscuits, it seems.
INSIDE THE BOOK
WINNER: Drugged-out “tree thuggers” just can’t match up against a treatment of justice and the prison-industrial system. Especially not with BISCUITS spelled BISUITS on the cover. Shit happens, but still. CP takes it.