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: A strange, complicated story from Andrew Thompson over the furor surrounding the Boy Scouts’ discrimination against gays, their place in a city-owned building, and the ten-year legal battle to reconcile those two things. Thompson goes deep into the matter at hand, to explain the major players — particularly the Working Group, opposed to the Boy Scouts’ policy and their place in the city — but his historical investigations are even more compelling.
Where there is anger, there is political opportunity. Former Mayor John Street’s 1999 campaign (in which, among other things, he opposed extending health benefits to same-sex couples) hadn’t exactly won him friends in Philadelphia’s gay community. When he took office in 2000 — the same year as the Dale decision — the mayor apparently wanted to change that. He appointed several gays to high-profile positions, created a liaison to the gay community, attended a fundraiser for gay rights.
“Street has gone a long way to diminish fear and loathing of him in the gay community,” noted a February 2001 Inquirer article, adding, “The test of the budding good feeling will come when Street has to deal with an issue of major importance” — the Boy Scouts, that is.
That’s not to say Street’s decision to begin pursuing action against the Philadelphia Scouts’ discriminatory policies wasn’t based on personal conviction. But there’s no question that the move helped his image in Philadelphia’s gay communities, including a small but powerful clique of gay and gay-friendly advocates in Philadelphia — among them former Temple president David Adamany, former Philadelphia Bar Association chancellor Andrew Chirls, high-powered Flaster Greenberg attorney Abbe Fletman and former Equality Advocates Pennsylvania executive director Stacey Sobel.
They called themselves the Working Group, and determined to wield their considerable influence — and remarkable access — to fight the Scouts’ policy.
Slowly, and with the cooperation of the city and rights activists including the Working Group, the powers that be began converging on the Scouts. In spring 2003, the Pew Charitable Trust and the United Way, both donors for the Scouts’ Philadelphia program, withdrew a combined $500,000 in funding, based on the organization’s discriminatory policy.
It later goes into who knew what and when with regard to the Boy Scouts’ suit against the city and the city’s settlement, and as the Philadelphia Gay News becomes the fourth player in the saga, the channels of power become rather difficult to sort out. It’s an unsatisfying end for the city and the Working Group, for sure, though it remains to be seen how a decade or more of bad press for the Scouts will affect their standing. Before something becomes “bad press,” though, it can be good journalism, and Thompson’s piece is.
PW: A weird, fascinating account of suspected conspiracy between the Illuminati — secretly controlling the world since the beginning of civilization — and popular African-American entertainers, including Jay-Z and Kanye. Honestly, it’s the kind of thing I expect to see in Da Capo’s Best Music Writing; an essay from a couple years ago, about numerology in the Wu-Tang Clan’s music, set my head spinning in a similar fashion. And to think it all starts with Nikki, sitting in a bar out in West Philly.
Nikki says that President Obama was “selected, not elected” president by the Illuminati, and that he’s now carrying out its homosexual agenda by “appointing more gays to his Cabinet than all the other presidents combined.” But unlike Beck, Jones and their followers, Nikki happens to be young, black and a huge fan of hip-hop. Oh, and she believes rapper Jay-Z is apart of the Illuminati too.
“Everybody know that,” she says, her three friends nodding wildly in agreement.
The “everybody” she’s referring to is people like herself: mostly young, black and deeply embedded in hip-hop culture. These are wildly different groups: Tea Party patriots believe their country is being taken away from them and being given to people like Nikki. Nikki and her friends contend that the American system is rigged in favor of those fitting the Tea Party profile. Lately, it appears that hip-hop has more in common with Tea Party patriots than it would ever care to admit.
It’s deeply weird stuff, and it gets less Philly-centric as it goes along — though Columbia professor and hip-hop intellectual Marc Lamont Hill used to teach at Temple — but this is definitely somewhere between a fascinating explication of lunatic-fringe stuff and finger-on-the-pulse divination of popular and political culture. All hail B-Mac and, of course, our savior Jay-Hova.
INSIDE THE BOOK
PW: The link’s a day late for AIDS Day, but this is definitely worth reading. Beautiful Dark Twisted Mashup Review. Roll out to Fork and Barrel. Mixed up in Manayunk: I feel the same way every time I go there.
WINNER: Gotta give the nod to PW, and I hope B-Mac receives due adulation for his beautiful dark twisted… there I go again… Freemasonry jawn.