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
CP: CP thinks global rather than local this week, and to good effect: Michael Koehler’s photo-essay on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and its impact on the shrimping industry in Louisiana is a stunner. The accompanying commentary from Jeffrey Billman on the spill’s impact on the Gulf Coast and the kind of response it demands is thoughtful and forceful in equal measure.
The slow-motion tragedy of the Deepwater Horizon, the BP oil rig that exploded six weeks ago, killing 11 workers and pumping a seemingly endless supply of black gold into the Gulf of Mexico, has been infuriating and frustrating, even from our vantage point 1,500 miles away. There is, of course, plenty of blame to go around: to BP, for its willingness to cut corners and put profits ahead of safety, and for its brazen and callous irresponsibility; to the Minerals Management Service (MMS), the agency tasked with regulating offshore oil rigs that was, according to a recent inspector general’s report, almost comically corrupt and incompetent during the Bush years; to the Bush administration itself, for its cavalier approach to offshore drilling and its disregard for the environment generally; and, to some degree or another, to the Obama administration, whose response has seemed — although the verdict’s not yet in — sometimes a bit listless and overly deferential to BP, which, let’s face it, doesn’t have the Gulf’s best interests at heart.
The real impact, thought, comes through in Koehler’s photos. They have an eloquence that words sometimes miss — plus, there’s more of them in the online version.
PW: All you need to know this week: beer, and plenty of it. PW is not only an official media partner (or some such thing) for Beer Week, they’re also covering it from nearly every angle: interviews with local brewers, collaboration beers brewed by multiple breweries, the interaction — not sure if it’s dangerous or hilarious — between physical, outdoor activity and beer. You’ll get thirsty reading it all, I have little doubt. As for their cover, I’ll start by saying that I’m leery of anyone who cites David Foster Wallace as a point of inspiration or role model. All Roland Weary has in common with the immortal DFW is footnotes.
I took my first sip of beer when I was five or six. I distinctly remember the taste, the smell. It was bitter, acrid. I didn’t take my second sip of beer for another 13 years. My father’s sobriety was precious to him, and out of respect for his abstinence I became a teetotaler.4 Still, I was curious about beer and its devoted drinkers. I spent countless hours in my grandfather’s bar watching the regulars pound PBR, Budweiser and Yuengling while my dad did inventory in the basement.5 They taught me how to throw darts, shoot pool, play video poker, but never once did we discuss beer.
Beers were like extra appendages for them—so present, so conspicuous that no explanation was needed. The bar was a place for sports and gambling, not a place for experimentation.By the time I finished high school, my resistance to alcohol had withered. It was obvious that college would be dull and difficult if I didn’t give cheap beer a chance. So I did, in a blackout binge.
Ill-advised comparisons aside, the piece has a wonderful shout-out to the pretzel necklaces at the Navy Yard beer festivals and contains a couple sharp observations, as well as a laugh or two. Unfortunately, that’s equaled by a glaring fact error or two, at least for those in the beer scene: Suzy Woods didn’t found Dock Street Brewing, and her women’s beer appreciation group is titled IPA for ‘In Pursuit of Ale,’ not ‘India Pale Ale.’ Maybe try going Gonzo next time: ‘Philadelphia Beer Week is Depraved and Decadent,’ maybe?
INSIDE THE BOOK
CP: The Khyber: Legendary for more than just the filthy bathrooms. Matt Pond PA: No, not ‘private attorney.’ Supreme Court introduces new, thorny legal issues. Rules for Beer Week: Yarfers will be prosecuted.
WINNER: CP doesn’t keep it local this week, but the artistry of Michael Koehler’s photojournalism can’t be denied. CP takes it over PW’s beer-engorged coverage. See you all out there amid the suds.