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: The Music Issue, another opportunity to read about bands I haven’t heard of written up in a way that makes me want to hear them. Enjoyable yarns abound this go-round: the surprising poise and maturity of Attia Taylor, the UArts student with the chops to dominate the whole scene, Bilal’s Harlem-to-Philly pilgrimage and head-expanding mission. Then there’s The War on Drugs, whose name always makes me think the station has somehow flipped from XPN to NPR:

Adam Granduciel’s giving his new theremin a test run in his living room studio in Fishtown. He flutters his fingers in the air around the antenna; liquidy squeals burst from an amp in the next room. Then he hooks up a guitar and an effects pedal, and strums a few chords. The sound bends when he leans in with the guitar neck, and straightens out when he backs away. “Pretty cool,” he says.
He and the rest of The War on Drugs just got back from a session at Moog Studios in Asheville, N.C. The Etherwave-model theremin was a parting gift. While you probably won’t hear it shrieking in the background of a War on Drugs album anytime, it does fit Granduciel’s mad scientist/tinkerer vibe.

And this is his lab, a small, sunlit room cluttered with all kinds of well-worn toys: a 16-track tape machine, a couple tape echo devices, a harmonizer, some old tube preamps, half-busted ’80s reverb units, organs, synths, guitars, a Tom Thumb piano— “It’s pretty minimal actually. It’s pretty stripped down,” Granduciel says, straight-faced. He’s thinking of the high-tech recording setups the Drugs or his other band, Kurt Vile & the Violators, have found themselves in recently. “But it’s nice to have a little work space, you know?”

The sound, the approach and the scene are all duly represented, and it makes more music journalism you can really sink your teeth — I’d say “sink your ears,” but that just sound weird — into, again and again.

PW: A huge, all-seeing, almost-all-knowing guide to the arts this fall. Yes, just one link but all that knowledge, and take note that it’s top-heavy: you might get overwhelmed by just the A’s (Art) and B’s (books). There are more treasures to behold later on, at F(ilm) and H(alloween) — yep, it’ll be here before you know it; my costume recommendation is Christine O’Donnell as a witch — but I found the greatest wealth of discoveries in Brian McManus’ write-up of the city’s stand-up comedy scene.

It’s a recent Saturday night and local comedian Doogie Horner is on stage at Connie’s Ric Rac—a tiny, recently reopened dive in the Italian market on Ninth Street—doing his imitation of a long-haul trucker at a poetry slam to scattered bursts of laughter and applause from a crowd of a couple dozen.

Horner’s stand-up is a wry combo of dry humor, big concepts, witty one-liners, aloof sarcasm and the absurd—he’ll contemplate who would win a battle between General Tso and Col. Sanders should the two ever meet on the field of battle (answer: YOU) just after pondering the subtle racism of a Great White Shark. His comedic style is equal parts Todd Barry, Patton Oswalt, Mitch Hedberg and Zach Galifianakis, although the latter might just be because both sport immense beards. This year he won Helium Comedy Club’s fifth annual Philly’s Phunniest competition.

Horner has been active in Philly’s standup scene for four years, but it was just a month or so ago that he caught a national wave on America’s Got Talent , an NBC show you probably can’t stand but your parents really enjoy. It’s hosted by Mariah Carey’s husband and judged by obnoxious germaphobe Howie Mandell, fun-but-cloying Sharon Osbourne and Larry King’s replacement to-be, the evil, lizardlike Brit Piers Morgan.

Horner took the stage to a ravenous, bloodthirsty crowd who’d already torn fresh assholes in the 40 (!) comedians preceding him. It only took one one-liner for the crowd to pounce—“I don’t trust pregnant people. I feel like they’re hiding something.” By the time he’d gotten to his joke about having sex with eagles, things got Blues Brother chicken wire bad.

Only he fought back. “You are all terrible people,” he told the crowd just before challenging each of them individually to a fight. They began applauding the abuse. He passed through to the next round.

His closing wrap-up of coming, laughter-inducing attractions will make you slap a knee or two, as well. The guide continues to strong to almost-the-finish, but I got hung up at Y, which addresses the Philadelphia Orchestra’s new music director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin. I think the members of the orchestra would be surprised to know they “chilled at home” this summer — they played series in Saratoga, N.Y. and in Vail, in addition to their series at the Mann Center. Maestro Nézet-Séguin would be equally surprised to know he currently conducts in “Rotterdamn.” Mon dieu!


CP: Double double, toil and Trelaware, some nutjob from down in Delaware… Mac’s: the food compares favorably to Paddy’s. Toronto: their baseball team isn’t the only thing lacking oomph. Oh, we think you’re so prettyyyyy-eee-heeee.

PW: Bitches can’t hang with the Street. Poetry eases the pain. Pat Toomey: totally off-the-charts conservative. Put down the Funyuns: “food for stoners” at Adsum.

WINNER: I’m digging PW’s alphabet-soup vibe, with little stylized characters for everything from A to Z. Once we get rid of these warm temps, it’ll finally be fall, and PW’s recs have me unreasonably excited for its arrival.

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