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 moment to confess my own ignorance: every time in the last two years I saw a headline about William Barnes – the guy who shot a police officer and is gonna have to go back to jail at age 72 because the cop died decades later – I thought the story was about the Barnes Foundation. Shows where my interests lie, right? This week, my misperceptions have come true, as the offbeat suburban art enclave and the documentary film on its dismantling lands on the cover of CP. Sam Adams’ story covers important turf, particularly film financier Lenny Feinberg’s hands-on, totally non-objective approach and the decision of the film’s director and producer to be totally cool with that.

A straight-talking type who plainly loves a good argument, Feinberg was looking for filmmakers to make a documentary about the Barnes. But his cp-cover-barnes.jpginvestment came with strings attached, conditions that caused at least one director to decline. He wanted to be involved in every aspect of the film, from preproduction through editing.

“I made it clear with the filmmakers in interviews that I would be hands-on in every aspect, which is just the way I felt about this story,” Feinberg says. “I wasn’t just the guy who was writing a check. I know that’s not the way it’s normally done, but I didn’t give a damn. Don said, ‘Hey, man, it’s your money. You can do whatever you want.’ Other people just wanted me to fund them and go away.” Rather than balk at Feinberg’s contributions, Argott and Joyce say they welcomed an additional point of view, no matter how firm. “From our first film to this one, we’ve had some amazing arguments in the editing room,” Joyce says. “It makes for a better film.”

Although he checked in only periodically during the invariably tedious editing process, Feinberg says he was involved with production on a day-to-day basis, poring over the list of questions for interview subjects and even asking his own once Joyce had finished with the primary interview.
The piece manages to be short but thorough, and though at first I wished Adams had dug a little more into the meat of the film – who these talking heads on the screen are, how the images are framed, and so on – Shaun Brady’s review a few pages later ably takes care of those elements. Better to let the journalist and critic handle their separate roles rather than have either overreach. Both make me want to see the movie and, more importantly, to see the Barnes in its original location before it’s resettled into the depressing intellectual slum (Barnes’ words, not mine) I call home.

pw-best-of-coverlg.jpgPW: Covering the Better than the Best in nearly every aspect of city life…. there is too much. Let me sum up. There’s people and places, where I’m pleased to see Quizzo host Irish John, the Curtis Institute and the staff of the Penn’s Landing Post Office singled out. There’s food, with some very fine recommendations on either side of a completely unnecesary dig at New Jersey, and the charming town of Collingswood in particular. There’s style and services, which makes me realize how little of the former I have. Lumping sex and sports into the same category seems… questionable, so let’s just skip over it entirely to arrive at bars, which warms my heart and liver in equal measure. Love how they capture a weekend night in Old City while staying true to their diamond-in-the-rough-seeking mission:

Old City was a rotting neighborhood in 1980, but Sassafras was the hottest spot in town. It was a coke-on-the bar, sex-in-the-bathroom kind of place, a real house of debauchery. In time, the scene faded, Old City gentrified and Glam and Ble Martini and 32 Degrees and the rest of their ilk arrived. Somehow Sassafras abided, and nowadays it’s an island of serenity in a sea of bachelorettes wearing blinking dildos on their heads. With apologies to Southwark and Chick’s, Sass may be the prettiest vintage barroom in the city. With its sloping tile floor, ceramic wainscoting and pressed tin ceiling, you can pretend you’re not in Old City — or even in this century.

They also point out the Old City influence creeping into NoLibs: The horror, the horror. Much to the credit of the PW staff, off-the-radar gems abound. Bravo.


CP: Fine dining meets Pop Tart-flavored ice cream. Judge Dredge: not a Stallone movie. Unexpected creep-out: “If you’re like us — and we know you are because we’ve seen you in the shower.” Arranged or improvised? Makes me want to listen either way.

PW: Sculpture-ific in Fishtown and “dissemination of the truth” in Rittenhouse. And that’s about it.

WINNER: “Best of” lists are guaranteed to raise a ruckus, but PW’s picks seem largely unassailable. If people wanna riot, let ’em riot: PW takes it this week.

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