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: Don’t let the clever, video game-styled graphics throw you: Isaiah Thompson’s piece on house theft is as sharp-eyed as they come, picking up on all manners of fraud and the staggering level of bureaucratic inefficiency in trying to prevent them.

… one way to steal a house in Philadelphia is, quite literally, to declare it yours on a piece of paper, submit that piece of paper to Records and waltz right in.

Beginning in January 2009, Eugene Myatt, then 25, began to do exactly that: He took title to a house in West Mount Airy, whose owner had died, as well as a vacant property on North Second Street in Northern Liberties, in the heart of the most rapidly gentrifying area in Philadelphia. Myatt accomplished these feats through an obscure legal process known as “adverse possession.” A kind of squatter’s right, the law allows someone — under very particular circumstances and only after 21 years — to claim ownership over property. Parcels obtained through adverse possession are usually pretty small — a piece of a yard you’ve been using for decades, for instance. But Myatt took the properties whole, claiming in the deeds he submitted to Records that he had lived in them for 21 years.Of course, for that to be true, he would have been a toddler when he moved in — to both houses, at once. Records processed the deed anyway.

It took more than a year for the rightful owners of the Northern Liberties house, Dagmar Mitchell and Dorothea Gamble, to secure a default judgment against Myatt. In the meantime, however, he managed to “sell” the Second Street property for $5,000 to “Twenty-Second Street LLC,” a corporation whose name does not appear on the state’s list of registered entities. Records accepted that deed, too. Since then — and despite an NBC-10 piece exposing Myatt over a year ago — Myatt has been busy as ever acquiring properties, including several in West Philadelphia.

It’s baffling, almost like a Monty Python sketch, or that movie “The Invention of Lying” (anyone see it?), in its absurdity: “You have to have lived here for 21 years.” “Oh, I have.” “Very good then!” Thompson presents the cons in an escalating series, each better executed and harder to track than the last. It seems like many City Council members are on board with making changes, but one source says “the real improvements have to be made at the state level.” So don’t anybody hold their breath on that.

PW: Tara Murtha tosses out a mighty piece of music journalism: reassessing Res, a local artist who rode the neo-soul wave at the start of the previous decade. Murtha explores her roots — even talks to her voice teacher from elementary school — and puts forth a thoughtful reflection on maturity, the music industry, and starting from square one.

The upstart was determined to ascend as high as the game goes. But then the wheels came flying off the music industry and mid-level artists like Res were tossed out of the carriage. Now, Res is back home, a music-industry refugee seeking asylum in Philly where she’s rebuilding her career, DIY-style.

“I’m trying to incorporate myself back into the Philly scene and figure out where I fit in,” she says. “I need to build a musical home for myself and build a buzz. It’s a new time for me. It’s a rebirth. I’m doing this again, from scratch.”

This time around, Res is working on her own terms. To announce that she’s home and ready to rock, the singer is hosting a homecoming residency Sunday nights through October at Silk City she’s calling Reset, also the name of the forthcoming album that will be ready for release early next year.

Without label support, Res is a one-woman business screening musicians, scheduling rehearsals, booking shows and pushing publicity to lift her brand-new show, album and career up off the ground.

So many of the mega-hits of the last five years — Gnarls Barkley, Santigold and (groan) the Black Eyed Peas — are sprinkled throughout that the stage is vividly set for Res’ sound and her place in the musical landscape. Plus, some of the little details are total gems — a sticker that says “Fleetwood Black”? An album called “Party Robot”? I dig it all.


CP: Taking PW to task… hey, that’s my job! From out of nowhere: Sudden deportation. Gumbo: Not that flexible, green cartoon character. Built to Spill: Idaho’s finest non-potato export.

PW: Both sides now: A double-headed debate on fracking. Questionable: An Ethel Merman reference in a sports column. Sufferin’ subcontinent at Mumbai Bistro. Tony Danza, dropout police.

WINNER: Fine offerings all around, but I’ve gotta give CP a slap on the wrist — you can’t say picking on PW is like punching a guy in a wheelchair and then do it anyway, even if it’s warranted — and give this week’s crown to PW.

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