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!


PW: Stick a fork in it: it’s the Pork Issue. Never mind that the cover says the Food and Drink issue, this week’s PW is, without question, swine-centric. pigmarketdiagramrev.jpgTimMcGinnis and Adam Erace break down the venerable barnyard critter section by section, showing the places in the city that cook each respective part best. They even learn something along the way:

Truth be told, we had no idea what guanciale was—or its proper pronunciation (gwan-che-ah-lay)—until very recently. It’s jaw bacon, people, and it’s awesome, especially when it’s tossed in an herby pecorino cheese sauce with peas, a poached egg and fusilli pasta at yet another Jose Garces home run.

The jaw, the head, the foot, the ears — it’s all edible and, in the words of Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction, it tastes gooooood. Remember also: pork butt doesn’t come from anywhere near the rear end. Hey, I learned something, too!

CP: Awww, look out! Helter Specter! A smart, hard-assed look at the (very) senior senator’s career, voting record and outlook for this fall’s election. Now, I know there are CP writers who are up to this kind of task, but I’m still glad they brought in Dan Hirschhorn for this one. Gaining the deep background and the knowledge of the electoral minefield that Specter is treading would have taken another gifted writer (Isaiah Thompson, for instance) away from Philly-centric issues and into the soul-killing state of Washington politics. He doesn’t deserve that kind of shabby treatment. Hirschhorn captures the irony and public discomfort with Arlen-the-Democrat in a no-nonsense fashion:

cp-specter-cover-2.jpgSo today, Specter is courting Democratic voters and liberal constituencies more proactively, more earnestly and more publicly than he’s ever had to before. He woos progressive bloggers on conference calls. He traverses the state talking to Democratic party leaders. He appears at gatherings of liberal activists. He goes on television to defend Obama, the same man he campaigned against just 18 short months ago.

All the while, he leverages relationships he’s built with Democrats over the last half-century, relationships that were always rooted in his willingness to break with GOP orthodoxy on certain issues, and relationships that only strengthen as Specter moves further and further to the left. Still, his seeming willingness to change his allegiances and positions on a dime leaves some in his new party wondering, bluntly:

How the hell can we trust this guy?

“People ask me a lot of pointed questions,” Specter says. “I’m willing to face the music.”

As with their post-strike interview with Willie Brown, CP has crafted a piece of indispensable reading. You might emerge slightly diminished or discouraged — see earlier comment about the current climate of Washington and its corrosive effect on your soul — but you’ll be better educated and, unlike Specter at times, you’ll have a good sense of where you stand on a bitterly divisive issue.

PW: Micks vs. The Mob: the South Philly Paesano’s. And the ban played on: Good-bye pit bulls? Notify the Geto Boys: it no longer feels good to be a gangsta. A cappella: still a joke.

CP: Indie rock meets orchestra: Yes please. Chartreuse: More than a Gayborhood store. After reading this, I feel just slightly closer to a master’s in political science. Fantasy baseball: less of a joke than it should be.

WINNER: Warning: pirate joke ahead. Did you hear about the movie about the senator who changed parties and faced a bitter reaction fight? It was ratedArrrrrrrr-len. Sorry. Anyway, because of their tough, thoughtful cover story, CP takes it.

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