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
PW: G.W. Miller holds a mirror up to the Philadelphia sporting scene and takes a look at both the dogged loyalty of the city’s fans and the identity crisis they now face as a result of – gasp – success. The Phillies’ 2008 ascent to World (Fucking) Champions status presented a paradigm shift, and the Fightins’ recent acquisition of power pitcher Roy Halladay may have them stocked for years to come. How can we be expected to take all this unexpected achievement?
After decades of coming up short in every major sport, all of the sudden Philadelphia is a destination—a town of, well, winners. It’s strange to even say that. The impact of two National League pennants and one World Championship title is amazing.
“I’m excited to play in the postseason and ultimately win a World Series,” Halladay confidently says to the 100 people in the room. “Hopefully, we’ll do it a few times.”
If that actually happens, you have to wonder if Philadelphia sports fans will ever be the same again.
When people try to be nice about it, they say we’re passionate fans. But the reality is that we are irascible, caustic, cynical and temperamental. We are intensely knowledgeable about our teams, and we take every little slight personally–like when Lower Merion product Kobe Bryant showed up at a Dodgers playoff game against the Phillies in October, flashed “LA” gestures with his hands, and said on national television that he grew up rooting for the Mets. As if we didn’t hate him enough after the Lakers star muttered that he was “coming to Philly to cut out their hearts” during the 2001 NBA Finals … against the Sixers.
Miller enlists Inky sports scribe Bill Lyon and higher-ups with various sports franchises to account both for the years of struggles and the string of successes. Even with the Phillies poised for a pennant run once again, though, we’re not likely to see signs saying “I promise never to boo again.” We’re not going soft: rivalries are only going to grow more fierce as our teams seek to hold onto the top spots. How many days til the home opener?
CP: Isaiah Thompson digs into the details behind the racial violence at South Philadelphia High School that gave the school district a black eye alongside those on the faces of numerous Asian-American students. Thompson presents the testimony of a Vietnamese student, identified as “Guy,” who ended up suspended and expelled for, it seems, simply coming forward. In light of what Guy has already been through at the hands of his peers, this is adding-insult-to-injury in a huge way.
One of Guy’s friends managed to escape; Guy wasn’t so fortunate. When he made his break, he lost his shoe. As he reached down to grab it, he was punched in the head from behind. He says he swung his shoe blindly, connecting with someone, he thinks — though he’s not sure. He tried to flee again, only to be overtaken by another, smaller group of assailants. He was punched in the head again, and after he fell forward, he says, four males pummeled him with their fists. They did not stop until an employee of a nearby Walgreens chased the attackers away. Guy limped home with the help of his friends. Along the way, he threw up. By the time he got home, the side of his face was badly bruised.
His story is largely supported by testimony included in Giles’ report — but only as one possible version of what happened. In another iteration, which is also described in that report, Guy is alleged to have confronted the African-American student in the hallway and been among the Vietnamese aggressors who “jumped” a “crippled/disabled African-American student.” He is also alleged to have been part of a street gang.
Ackerman picked up the latter version and ran with it, and the idea of the Vietnamese instigators who beat up a disabled black student the day before the Dec. 3 chaos became the de facto official story. (She and other school officials declined to be interviewed for this story.) Calling the evidence that supports this theory of the events of Dec. 2 “flimsy” would be generous. The notion of Guy-as-instigator, according to Giles’ report, is largely based on a single incident report filed that day by school police officers. Although Giles’ report says that both the black and Asian students involved in that incident were interviewed, the officers’ incident report contains only interviews with the two African-American males who were detained that afternoon. Guy says the school police never spoke to him or his friends.
The Giles report – commissioned, it’s noted, by the school district for nearly a hundred thou – is given a thorough going-over, and the entanglements surrounding Guy’s suspension for “disrupting the school” and a notification so delayed that he missed his chance to appeal it don’t in any way pass the smell test. At every opportunity, it seems like the School District has tried to shift blame and save face. A culture of violence is tough to overcome, but a culture of covering-up isn’t the answer.
INSIDE THE BOOK
PW: Sichuan cuisine: Hot shit. Starlet praises P-Diddy: Is that guy still around? Gerrymander: A word coined to reminder us that politicians are really slimy amphibians. Striking a blow against hit-and-run.
WINNER: Another crucial piece of reporting from CP’s Isaiah Thompson. “Journalist Hero” might never take off as a video game, but if it does, I want him in it. CP takes it.