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: CA Conrad… where I have heard that name before? Oh, right. PW, last week. It’s cool, though: rather than speculate about the scoop, or about what this says (or doesn’t say) about the dearth of good stories in this city, I’m gonna go positive: a.d. amorosi’s Conrad cover is less about the man than Tara Murtha’s take, more about the city’s poetry scene in general, and a good read as well. Conrad’s just the starting point for Amorosi’s formulation of the city’s renewed commitment to verse.

…it’s not just radical writers like Conrad, and it’s not just publishing. “Eight PhillySound poets came out with books in the past year,” says cp_2010-04-01.jpgFrank Sherlock of his and Conrad’s Philly-based poet pals, such as Ish Klein and Dorothea Lasky, who collectively run a Web site and podcast dedicated to their spoken word ( “Publishers finally have their ear tuned to what’s been going on in this city during our last decade.”

Not since the mad dawn of the poetry-slamming ’90s has free and rhythmic verse become the focus at so many diverse venues. Not content to find itself nudged into a taproom’s slowest night with writers drunkenly spitting lousy verses to angry ears, poetry’s implicated itself into galleries, libraries and university writing centers with great momentum and greater audiences.

Testify! Lumped with a formidable lineups of reviews — including, praises be, a klatch of baseball books — and a crazy crime-writing Q&A, this is the most robust Book Quarterly in many a quarter.

PW: Sometimes, it takes a Texan. Leave it to Brian McManus to craft an entertaining and informative tale of Philly’s music scene impact at Austin’s South by Southwest festival. BMac tells the truth but tells it slant, including one intriguing wrinkle: sticking by a hip-hop guy’s side in a scene stepped in indie-rock.

Walking down Sixth Street with Philly rapper Freeway in anything resembling a timely fashion is impossible. Sixth is Austin’s main party arterypw033110cover-1.jpg—think Two Street, New Year’s Day; Broad Street, Philly’s World Series Victory; fifteen South Street flash mobs piled on top of one another. Hundreds of bars and live music venues sit tightly packed together in fewer than a dozen blocks. On the weekend, traffic is diverted around Sixth and drunks are allowed to clog the roadway by foot. It’s a gauntlet. Lots of bobbing, tons of weaving, turn sideways, speed up, slow down. Watch that puke! There’s a distinct rhythm to it. The more you walk it (or the drunker you get), the easier it becomes.

But when one-time Roc-A-Fella millionaire Freeway and his notorious beard are in tow, that rhythm gets disrupted considerably, and mastering the drunken slalom becomes futile.

Take eight steps, pose for picture. Take five steps, pose for another. Take three steps, listen to a video director pitch an idea. Take four steps, get handed a demo. Take another picture. And another. Before you know it you’ve walked exactly one block in 20 minutes.

BMac takes time to single out notable bands from the indie circuit – Man Man and Drink Up Buttercup, batshit crazy-kindred spirits, figure prominently – but I’m most impressed with the way both he and all the featured artists rep the scene — gritty, hard-working and home-grown. Year in year out, the story of SXSW is buzz bands, blog fervor and flashes-in-the-pan. Philly isn’t flashy, though, and they love us for it.


CP: Erykah Badu 2: Naked Video Boogaloo. Two points to B. Howard for obscure literary reference. Police join umpires as professions with widespread blindness. The low-down on a new Japanese joint: I wanna dip my balls in it!

PW: It’s actually called “catchin’ rep,” not “catch and wreck.” Take another little pizza my heart now, baby. Blue in the face over green jobs. Yo, PW Raps, Volume 2.

WINNER: I’m not gonna throw in an April Fool’s joke here, like awarding the title to one paper, only to take it back and give it to the other. Seriously. PW takes it for illustrating the exporting of our city’s awesomeness into a vibrant, foreign environment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *