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: Danzig quote on the cover? Check. Connections to Living Colour and Pantera? Check. Enough to convince that Joe Jordan and his band, the Joe Jordan Experience (JJX), are totally, legitimately, raise-the-horns-to-our-Dark-Lord metal. Then AD Amorosi hit me with the fact that he’s kicking out jams with his mother, Jacqui Gore, behind the kit, and I was hooked.
It’s not readily apparent to audiences who’ve witnessed the screech and burn of JJX in person — at spots like Doc Watson’s, The Balcony and Tritone — that the diminutive Gore is quite a bit older than the rest of the group.
Which is to say she doesn’t look 57. Gore’s face is unlined and she carries herself like a confident teen when she walks. She’s doesn’t hit the skins or bust grooves like she’s 57 (not that 57 is old for a musician). Gore swings, kicks and slams like a thrash-fancying skate-punk who just bought her first Mandrill album. Sure, her theatrical use of a cigarette holder when she smokes is unusual, but it gives off an air of breezy sophistication rather than age.
On the phone, Jordan recalls the occasional stare at the occasional gig, somebody in the audience trying to figure out Gore’s story — her age, her connection to this pack of pile-driving rockers. “That’s a 57-year-old woman up there — whoa!” he laughs. “Banging the drums with precision and doing her thing.”
Then he reiterates in a mock-operatic tone his nightly introductions. “Ladies and gentlemen — my mom,” says Jordan, reliving that ritual moment with stagy brio. “She was 33 when she had me — how’s she doing?”
Between that reversal of expectations, along with Jordan as a “black goth-metal dude in spikes, fishnets and Chuck Taylors,” this has to be one of the coolest music cover stories I’ve seen in a while. Too bad it was also one of the shortest — just a scant page. Ah, well. Space might be tight, but the JJX sounds even tighter. Throw up the horns, folks.
PW: Reporting from the trenches in Trenton, your editor and mine — wait, just mine — JV brings us the inside dope on medical marijuana legislation in the Garden State. All the political turmoil and Trentonian in-fighting can’t take away from the gripping opening tale of Diane Riportella, her illness, and marijuana’s role in improving her quality of life.
“It alleviates the pain and it helps me eat because I have no appetite,” says 54-year-old Riportella, lying in her bed on the second floor of the upscale home she shares with her husband in one of the tonier Zip codes of Egg Harbor, N.J. “But more importantly, it puts a smile on my face and makes me at peace with all this,” she says, gesturing toward the vast array of pill bottles on her night stand and the tank of oxygen with the thick, white accordioned snake that connects it to the respirator mask she has removed to answer a reporter’s questions. “It makes me feel like I could live another day with this disease.”
She asks her husband to sit her upright and frowns as she shows off her limp, withering limbs that hang off her body like wilted branches. It wasn’t always like this. Before she was diagnosed three years ago, Riportella used to be a fitness trainer at the gym where she met her husband, Paul, 13 years her junior. “Yeah, she’s kind of the original cougar,” he says with a smile. She ran marathons to raise money for leukemia and breast cancer research, raising nearly $200,000 over the years by her reckoning. She was always helping out others in need. She even cooked eggs for clean-up workers at Ground Zero after 9/11.
Advancing the cause of medical marijuana will likely be her last fight. And she has fought hard. Riportella has been outspoken about her use of medical marijuana and testified before the New Jersey Legislature, along with other terminally ill advocates for medical marijuana, imploring lawmakers to pass the Compassionate Use Act, which former Gov. John Corzine signed into law Jan. 18 as one of his last official acts as governor.
It’s tough but compassionate reporting, and JV goes on to accurately frame the issues and what they could mean for the terminally ill on this side of the Delaware. Not everything’s as sensitively done, though. See what I did up there in the first sentence? It’s what EVERYONE does when pot is in the news. Headlines, captions and other prominent details are too often couched in pothead slang that seems to trivialize the whole matter. ALS patients are not Dr. Dre; this is not “The Chronic 2010.”
INSIDE THE BOOK
PW: The great debate on Merry-juana Christmas. What’s that you say? Just tar balls? Oh, carry on, then. New Starr spot: Cones of Shame, juicy, tantric moments. Come to Philly for the “crack dealers and whores plying their trades in unkempt glass and needle-filled yards”!
WINNER: Metal über alles. CP reigns — in blood, if you will — over PW this week. [You’re so FIRED! — The Ed.]