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: CP shows its stuff on the runway with a sprightly spring fashion issue. Newsprint doesn’t do the spreads, admirably captured by Neal Santos, justice, so cp_2010-03-25.jpgyou’d do well to check them out here, here and here. Elsewhere, there’s some prognostication on what the decade ahead holds, sartorially-speaking. Word to the wise: Be prepared to go retro.

Peering into our crystal ball, we see a blast of elements from the roaring ’90s shaping the way people suit up in the ’10s. Fashion is frequently dictated by what was en vogue two decades before. Perhaps this is because 20- and 30-somethings are the ones determining what’s in and what’s out, and they look back on their childhood for inspiration.

We’ve already seen this happening on the streets with floral prints, baby-doll dresses and Doc Martens. First-season Project Runway winner, renowned fashion designer and Philly resident Jay McCarroll echoes this prediction. “People can’t come up with new ideas so they always have to go backward,” he says. But should we really start looking to Zack Morris and Kelly Kapowski for our fashion needs?

The answer, in short, is no. Various Philly fashion scene folks weigh in with their own predictions: go vintage, go basic (because we’re all feeling the recession pinch), go for broke (blow it all on one fantastic piece you can’t live without), and go Gaga. Well, maybe not quite that crazy.

PW: Another Spring Issue, but one without a definite focus. There’s a couple of profiles of some local characters, but I’m not sure why spring is the right time to single them out. Were they hibernating? The stand-out, though, is a piece on radical poet CA Conrad.

Twenty-four years ago, Conrad fled what he calls the “white-trash asphyxiation” of rural central Pennsylvania into the gritty bosom of Philadelphia to pwcover032410.jpglive out his calling. The gay poet says that after years of enduring homophobic taunting in his hometown he came to the city because, “I loved poetry and I didn’t know where else to go.”

Conrad’s an intense guy. For the last quarter century, he’s been relentlessly mining corners of every experience to find the words he wrestles into elegantly bizarre knots of award-winning poetry.

Now, along with friend and frequent collaborator poet Frank Sherlock, Conrad has delivered a dark and sometimes bizarre love letter to Philadelphia. The City Real & Imagined , released last month by Factory School, is in some ways a fractured epistolary ode to Philadelphia, a city that Conrad loves deeply and, all these years later, still sees as his salvation.

Now, I’m straight, but I definitely remember well Pennsyltucky’s stifling cultural atmosphere. It must be the former struggling poet in me that’s so touched by Tara Murtha’s write-up, especially by Conrad’s insistent claim that he’s never seen a better era for poetry in this city. Overall, though, I think anyone who thinks and feels could find something to admire in Conrad’s thoughtful perspective on city life. This closing — “Some people prefer trees dead, as baseball bats or violins. How an orchestra is an orchestra of the singing dead because it’s made of trees … But it’s also a beautiful thing that there’s music coming out this dead tree.” — just blindsided me with its beauty.


CP: Culinary creativity dished out on Ikea plates. Fast times at South Philly High? From Austin with love: “I’m doing this for me, not for you. If you like it, great. If you don’t, suck it.” Short Memory Dept.: Cliff who?

PW: The raw and the cooked: Not just for anthropologists or ’80’s rock fans anymore. The library’s stacked: ain’t nothin’ wrong with that. Freecycle: Craigslist meets spring cleaning. Inspector General vs. City Council: Probably tipped off by the giant neon “CORRUPTION” sign.

WINNER: I’m in the early stages of an allergy-induced haze, but PW’s profile of CA Conrad momentarily cleared my vision. Kudos to PW, Conrad, and everyone else trying, in John Updike’s words, “to give the mundane its beautiful due.”

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