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: A.D. Amorosi takes us through the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market, a huge, futuristic project that could go a long way toward rehabbing Southwest Philly and making it more than just flyover territory for the airport. It could be the largest produce distribution center in the U.S., and it offers unequaled refrigeration capacity and the potential for startling efficiency.

This massive project — currently employing more than 1,500 people, and expected to create a multitude of new jobs and employers, including some from Southwest Philly — had the most clichéd of beginnings.

“One day I just started drawing out plans on a napkin,” says Sonny DiCrecchio.

After running his own refrigeration business for 25 years, DiCrecchio took over as the Galloway Street market’s executive director in 2000. A year later, he started dreaming up plans for a more modern facility. After realizing that retrofitting Galloway could cost upward of $90 million — and leave its existing merchants and vendors high and dry during the process — it became obvious that a new facility was the answer.

Easier said than done.

There had long been talk of getting aid from the city and the state. In the 1990s, even as recently as 2004, New Jersey cities such as Camden and Gloucester just across the river had been offered as alternative sites, but loyalty to Pennsylvania was key to the market’s stockholders.

DiCrecchio recalls the back-and-forth of locations and money worries as an equal mix of comedy and drama. There was the Navy Yard, where Gov. Ed Rendell announced some 70 acres would be made available in 2005, and again in 2007. In between, Pier 98 at Oregon Avenue and Columbus Boulevard was proposed, too.

Amorosi brings a Southwest Philly native’s insights and a sense of the scope of the project, as well as the funding and zoning hoops that had to be jumped through to make it all happen. One weird bit, though: he says the compressors for the refrigeration units are “all controlled via the Internet.” Via computer, sure, and perhaps via an on-site network or intranet, but can this be right? Or is it all just a series of tubes? All the major headlines of 2010 broken down into Big and Small Moments. I’ve liked this format in the past — the widely-known story and then its partially hidden but still-noteworthy underside. There was no shortage of hot-button topics this year, but let’s start with one that I actually completed missed out on (damn jury duty!):


Big moment: Ride the Ducks amphibious vehicle is struck by a barge, killing two Hungarian tourists.
Small moment: Tug boat operator refuses to be interviewed by National Transportation Safety Board after anonymous tip claims he lowered radio volume to take personal cell phone call. Officials announce plans to move tours from Delaware River to quieter Schuylkill River.

See? Done right, it’s a neat, insightful one-two punch. Other entries, though, veer closer to CP-The Bell Curve territory.



Big moment: Terminex declares Philly the second most bedbug-infested city in America (after New York).
Small moment: Bedbugs raise tiny fists of victory from Rittenhouse to Overbrook.

The point-counterpoint approach is so much more effective: it makes you feel like you have access to something special, like there’s something more to be found beneath the surface of the story. Any schmoe can tack a punchline on the end of a story; take it from an expert.


CP: 12 months of skeez. Escargot big or go home: French cooking road show. Blood in the soupbowl (sung to the tune of “Smoke on the Water”).

PW: The union: more than just a soccer team. Your contractually-obligated best-of music list. Who’s your Trinidad-dy? Beneficial booze, liver be damned.

WINNER: Though I’d like to officially suggest an alternate title for CP’s cover — “Essington Avenue Freeze-Out” — they take the final crown for 2010. Happy New Year, see you in 2011.

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