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: Once again, confronted with CP’s Big Vision issue, I find myself nodding vigorously, in recognition and agreement: Food Trust! Girls Rock Philly! Pulitzer Prize winners from the Daily News! Fuck yeah! In truth, there are fewer under-the-radar choices than in the past, but you can’t fault any of their choices, and that even the indie/art-y choices ring a bell is a tribute to increased media coverage, by CP and elsewhere, and the tenacity that many of these groups and individuals have shown in pursuing their goals. There was one name that wholly new to me: Rina Cutler. Take it, B-How.

When it comes to environmental stewardship, no one would mistake Philadelphia for Berkeley. But in one short year, the city has taken — huge strides — in the way it deals with its waste. We’ve got weekly recycling pickup, we recycle all numbered plastics, and we have a Recycling Rewards program wherein residents rack up and redeem points for local goods and services.

Good. But not good enough, says Rina Cutler, deputy mayor for transportation and utilities, under whose purview this all falls.

“When I look to the future,” says the Boston native with a Jane Jacobs-like fascination with urbanity, “I see Philadelphia developing a waste management strategy that mirrors those in Denmark and Sweden.”

These are lofty goals. After we reduce our waste (check) and increase our recycling (check), “we ought to look to convert [our waste] to energy. That’s what makes it a sustainable plan.”

It’s not pie-in-the-sky rhetoric. There’s math. According to Cutler, we spend $37 million to send 565,000 tons of garbage to the landfill per annum. Recycling can offset some of that. She says Philadelphia recycled about 100,000 tons last year, and though the selling price fluctuates, last quarter we got $51 per ton, or $1.2 million.

Glad to meet you, Rina. The Charlie Manuel choice may require some revisiting after last night (goddammit), but all around, super-solid. Once again: fuck yeah.

PW: A TV show about unsolved murders in Philadelphia… wait, I already heard of this one. It’s “Cold Case”, right? What? That got canceled? Damn. Oh, and this new one’s non-fiction? For real? Damn.

Each episode of the show will feature interviews with people close to the victims, discussing what they know about how their loved ones met their deaths. While the friends and family members tell their stories, the show alternates between the interviews and background images of the streets, homes and alleys that served as the settings for the gruesome crimes, which are re-enacted to give viewers a visual clue of what happened. help create the show, Jones enlisted a crew of longtime friends, including several he grew up with on the streets of West Philly and share his passion for the cause. Now in their 30s and 40s, Jones and his boys—Darryl Gresham, Earl Brooks, Ron Henry, David Daniels and Paul Smith—are ready to make their contribution to fighting crime in Philadelphia.

“People complain, ‘the cops aren’t doing this, the Mayor’s Office isn’t doing that,’” Smith says. “So why don’t we do something? We believe we can be the bridge between the community and the police.”

On a recent Saturday afternoon, the men gather inside Life Media’s Port Richmond studio to prepare for the first episode. The front room of the studio could easily double as a clubhouse. Located on the second floor of an old warehouse, the guys furnished the space with a conference table, pool table and a screening area, plus several recording studios down an unfinished hallway. Even when they aren’t working on a film project, they come to chill and watch football on the huge TV…

Soon, though, the group gets down to the business of solving murders. They are interviewing for their first episode, featuring the story of Liliana Acevedo, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver in North Philly last May.

Jones says the crew came across Acevedo’s story by accident last May. “We were driving around doing another shoot and I saw all these dolls on the sidewalk.” He stopped the car and jumped out to find a vigil for Acevedo, so he pulled out his camera to capture the scene for part of a separate documentary about violence.

“We looked across the street and saw some guys filming,” says Acevedo’s cousin, Kenny Gomez. The family and the filmmakers approached each other and Jones explained his idea for the unsolved-murders show. “We were overwhelmed … that Jones was out there trying to help out with open cases,” Gomez says. “It gave us a little relief at that time.”

It’s, like, vigilante media or something… rounding up a posse for investigation instead of cold-blooded justice. It’s daring, innovative, risky and kind of inspiring — though the necessity of a project doesn’t say much for both the presence of crime and the efficacy of police work. In short, it beats the hell out of a Sunday night on CBS.


CP: More cluck for your buck, Harrisburg sucks, to the CQS staff: lotsa luck, and your weekly dose of “what the fuck.”

PW: Foodie surprise, naked guys, sportscasters easy to criticize, domestic violence: heavy sighs, many “why?“‘s.

WINNER: Solid offerings all around, but I’ll give the edge to PW this week. I’m calling it now, though: I expect to see the “Unsolved Philadelphia” crew in CP’s Big Vision 2011 issue.

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