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 CP staff takes on the Live Arts/Fringe lineup and, true to yearly form, it’s a crazy mish-mash of lo-fi, DIY and high-concept art. Most compelling is OFF THE GRID, a “fest-within-the-fest” that explores environmental themes while actually delivering on its green roots: it’s solar-powered and PECO-backed with wind-energy credits. For a helping of aspiration, stretching the boundaries of what art can accomplish, check out choreographers explaining the themes of their work, especially when it concerns something as abstract as loss, or nothingness, or the human body. All of this through dance — wow. And then there’s the a heap of Web 2.0-inspired shows, with actors taking the stage via Facebook and Twitter. Shaun Brady elaborates:

…What are social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace and Twitter, after all, but a way to watch people cp_2009_09_03.jpgwatch themselves watching us watch them watch everybody else?

That unprecedented balance of intimacy and anonymity has captivated local artists to such an extent that no fewer than four of the shows in this year’s Live Arts/Fringe are wrestling with it in some way.

New Paradise Laboratories’ FATEBOOK takes Facebook as its inspiration — but also as its venue. In their NoLibs space, the company has been constructing a hall of Web 2.0 mirrors, a series of screens which will reflect back not only the images of the show’s characters, but their feelings, thoughts, status updates. But by the time Fest audiences step inside, the show will already have been going on for months.

What can I say? Creepy and invasive hits close to home. Also creepy: the continued presence of naked people on the cover, this time in some kind of a twist on Nirvana’s “Nevermind.”

PW: School violence, in the post-Colombine era, has tended to be glossed over. Anything short of bomb threats or firearms being deployed seems to get glossed over. But with a specific, disturbing trend of violence plaguing Philly’s school – the targeting of Asian students – G.W. Miller steps in to investigate, starting with incidents at South Philly High and then moving north.

cover090209_lg_1.jpgDistrict officials acknowledge that some situations weren’t handled well, leaving many students feeling abandoned.?  “There’s a lot of mistrust,” says comprehensive high school regional superintendent Michael Silverman. The impact of the violence on such vulnerable populations can have a major impact on their lives, activists say.?  “We’ve heard of students not going to school—as young as 8th and 9th graders,” says Khin Mai Aung, a staff attorney with the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF).“Some kids drop out. Others just become less involved and perform poorly. They can’t learn when they don’t feel safe.” Where administrators or the School District intervened, improvements in student relations improved and the violence decreased—the number of overall violence in the district decreased by 17 percent last school year. But the culture of violence against Asian immigrants has existed for so long at some public schools that students almost accept that random beat downs are a part of life.

The causes are hazy, but a particular strain of racism against speakers of foreign languages and recent immigrants seems to lurk at the core. More definitive are the stats: numbers of incidents per year at certain schools, a city-wide school population that’s 62 percent African-American, a high school in Society Hill that’s 55 percent Asian. Those figures, along with Miller’s in-depth interviews with both students and staff, give the story both heft and immediacy. We’re still a long way from post-racial America.


CP: I was thinking of the immortal words of Val Kilmer, when he said, “Let’s go get a burger.” Nerdy, sci-fi inspired drinks: what’s not to like? For the sake of water ice entrepreneurs, let’s hope for a long Indian summer. MORE naked people? The hell with this.

PW: Heroes on a half-shell: Oyster power! Noam if you want to, Noam around the world. Don’t shed any tears for Tierney. Breakfast at Sulimay’s blows up.

WINNER: PW takes it, for putting serious issues and in-depth reporting on the cover when it would have been easy to just run down Live Arts/Fringe instead. Oh, wait, they did both. Talk about covering all the bases.

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