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!

ON THE COVER

CP: Holly Otterbein brings up the story of the Philadelphia chapter of ACT UP — for the uninitiated, that’s the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power — that has flourished where chapters in other cities have floundered and folded. It’s a thoughtful, nuanced account that factors in changing demographics and the involvement of a variety of different minorities, and reveals promises by politicians of all stripes to combat AIDS. ACT UP holds feet to the fire, no question: the coalition “played a critical role in the creation of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), President George W. Bush’s pledge to give $15 billion to fight global AIDS — which he eventually tripled in ’08.” Here’s more:

ACT UP isn’t just another advocacy group: They are the A-Team of AIDS activism, a band of crack commandos always ready to parachute in, http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4154/5434247050_37a08db6bc_m.jpgtheir rhetorical guns blazing. Fail to listen and suffer the consequences: They’ve been known to swarm the mayor’s home to demand housing for people with AIDS, take over the Capitol Rotunda to press Congress to lift a federal ban on funding syringe exchanges, and shut down the Food and Drug Administration in protest of slow approval times for AIDS drugs.

Twenty years ago, there were more groups like this around the country. But AIDS has been quietly fading from the public eye — even as medical officials warn of an impending domestic AIDS crisis, especially among minorities and poor people — and AIDS activism has diminished along with it.

The ragtag Philly chapter of ACT UP now finds itself one of the last bastions of die-hard AIDS activism. But it might also represent the beginnings of a whole new AIDS movement — one that looks decidedly different than what came before it.

They’re direct, organized and, as they say, united in anger. Forget chaining themselves in front of buildings (which the NYC ACT UP has done): they paraded down Nutter’s street and sang satirical Christmas carols outside Nutter’s house! That’s a force to be reckoned with.

PW: A modified line from the Rolling Stones’ “Shattered” crept into my head as I read through this year’s Food and Drink issue: Love and food and sex and sex and sex! It doesn’t matter! But Tim McGinnis’ must-read tale of returning to life through cooking convinced me that it does, more than various chefs talking about their favorite foods or the dishes they make for their romantic partners. Redemption through venison: who’d have thought?

There was something very primal and therapeutic about grinding the flesh of an animal my friend had shot. We gathered around our kill as tribesmen once did and made it into food—food that would feed and nourish us and our families. It made me feel like a whole man rather than the broken one my wife had left in her wake. I could feel my testicles start to grow back.

http://media.philadelphiaweekly.com/designimages/cover020911+small.jpgThe following day, Christmas Eve, my hosts left to finish some last-minute holiday shopping. I was alone for the first time in three days. A big believer in the “idle hands” adage, I opened a bottle of wine and tasked myself with prepping for Christmas dinner. Until that night, motivation and inspiration had been rare commodities, so I turned to an old friend for help. The book Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman is a much-used culinary bible in my kitchen. I sat down and paged through my copy hoping something would pop out and push me to create.

I flipped through the book and stopped dead on duck confit. I love old-school techniques. I’m perpetually inspired by terrine recipes, cheese making, smoking and, of course, sausage making. There is a real sense of love, history and family in food like that. I applied the confit method to turkey legs. I broke down the turkey, first separating the legs from the body at the hip joint; I then slid my knife down each side of the breast bone and removed the breasts, then the wings at their joint. I moved quickly and efficiently. It felt like meditation. Fully concentrating on the task at hand, I released all negative emotion into the ether.

I brined the breasts in a simple salt/sugar water solution and rubbed the legs and wings with salt, studded them with garlic and bay leaf. Afterward, I toasted and ground a handful of cloves and rubbed that on the legs and wings, too. I felt happy, inspired and lighter around the shoulders. I then realized, quite to my surprise, that I had been whistling while I worked, a spontaneous bout of happiness I no longer thought was possible just a few short days before. Small victories.

The line about his testicles aside, this is compelling stuff. Now that Tim’s operating Plenty on East Passyunk, he might be more of a chef/businessman than a journalist/memoirist, but I can’t imagine another Philly restarateur opening up this way for such a wide audience. Bravo.

INSIDE THE BOOK

CP: An album that makes “Taco’s version of ‘Puttin’ on the Ritz’ sound like ‘War Pigs.'” God and man in Juniata Park. Great food exorcises the “ghosts of clubs past.” Picking through musical puzzles.

PW: Another heart-crusher from Tara Murtha. Anti-Nutter Big Gay Dance Party. Writtenhouse: Repping the city’s “overall blanket of hunger and soul.” A funny, unlikely list with a Roald Dahl shoutout. Love it.

WINNER: Still got lots of love for Tim McGinnis in PW, but I have to give the nod to CP for showing not only how hardcore ACT UP is, but the “why”s and “how”s as well.

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