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: CP salutes the “intense, insane, awesome” atmosphere of the now-defunct Spectrum, which signed off at the end of Pearl Jam’s Halloween-weekend run. The Top 20 events are a 10-10 split between musical happenings and sports milestones. Pat Rapa tackles sports, and the championships loom large, of course — Flyers in ’74, Sixers in ’83 — and I’m kind of tickled to see Christian Laettner’s huge jump shot in the NCAA tournament rank so high (even under the headline ‘White Guy Hits Jump Shot’). Also, I’ve never been much of a hockey fan, but the tales of the Flyers’ glory days in the ’70s and ’80s make me nostalgic for an earlier era and for a sport I hardly follow.
The musical event list, culled by Mr. Amorosi, has some choice picks as well — the Who, in ’75, at Number 1! The fucking WHO! — and some crazy, off-the-wall ones: Bobby Brown at Number 3, Club MTV with Tone Loc, Milli Vanilli, Was (Not Was), Information Society and Paula Abdul at Number 5. Unfortunately, rather than being a tribute to the arena and the acts that made it legendary, the list is mostly self-indulgent, with a lurid, who-did-what-drugs-when vibe. Observe:
It would be a sad shame if I didn’t mention how in my past, many of my Spectrum outings were fueled by cocaine. I out-drummed Steely Dan’s New York Rock & Soul Revue in 1992 due to the protean effects of the white stuff, and the Blow Monkeys/Psychedelic Furs show (1986) was indeed furry, psychedelic and blow-filled. But I was so loudly coked-up during Ozzy Osbourne/Metallica in ’86 — a great show, honest I remember it — that I’m certain Ozzy stopped to look at me. No, really.
This comes after a mention of mushrooms and screwing up other people’s dates. A.D. might be a Philadelphia institution by himself, but the list isn’t “Top 10 Spectrum Amorosi moments.” Long after the Spectrum is blown up, tales of bygone blow will keep us warm, right?
PW: Tara Murtha profiles Vincent Ceraso, a South Philly guy and a former drug user with a ballsy calling in life. To call him a “drug-abuse counselor” wouldn’t quite cover it. He’s a hard-edged, aggressive enforcer of interventions, the confrontations between addicts and their loved ones that (hopefully) puts the users on the road to recovery, and he’s uncompromising as they come.
First rule: There’s no time for pussyfooting.? “I tell people up front. Your family member might die,” he says. “So cut the shit with me. You call me up to tell me something you just thought of because you didn’t feel like telling me last week, I’m going to be pissed. If [the family] wants this to work, I need to know everything I possibly can about this person.” ? When he says everything, he means everything. ? “What used to make this person tick?” asks Ceraso. “Was she a good mother? A great wife? Was there sexual trauma?”
This information is mandatory in order to prepare for the confrontation, but it also helps Ceraso to select the right rehab. Part of the job of a good interventionist is to maintain a database of treatment centers and know which ones specialize in “secondary issues” a person may have going on. He says placing people in the closest or cheapest center without considering secondary issues is one of the reasons for a high relapse rate. (The national relapse rate is somewhere between 40 and 60 percent; Ceraso, who says he monitors cases for a year, claims a relapse rate of “just over nine percent.”)
Murtha really makes Ceraso come alive: there’s a whiff of evangelism in his work, strange for a man who disavows being a born-again Christian because of his background. I don’t need to see this A&E show to know how wrenching the whole intervention experience is; Murtha and Ceraso bring it to the page. And what is Ceraso, as he digs into people’s backgrounds and asks the very important, very difficult questions, but a journalist? There’s an awful lot to be learned from this piece.
INSIDE THE BOOK
CP: The Williams D.A. administration suffers a blow on day one. Start spreading the news… EgoPo and Beckett: They can’t go on, they’ll go on. Cool topic, great headline, keeps vampires away. I love it.
PW: The Supergroup Showdown: It can only end this way. Good luck keeping it local: National media overlords eye Philly. The Breast Defense: Not just for titty-twisters. Pro-wrestling drama: If Mickey Rourke can do it, why can’t we?
WINNER: With the latest in an impressive streak of hard-hitting cover stories, PW takes it. Props where they’re due, dudes. Keep ’em coming.