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: The Style Issue, eh? I’ll admit I’m sartorially suspect, but I’ve gleaned that this is an area where Philly has a bigger-than-expected impact. It’s not all clothes either — I was roped in by an exploration of American Mortals salon, a place I’ve long wondered about as I’ve strolled by on my way to Center City, and its owners Dave and Kimberly Bond.

Without the help of a business guide, they put their heads together and began by working with what they had. Kimberly set up two CP_3_19_11.jpgchairs in the back where she and a partner cut hair; Dave sold repurposed furnishings in the front. And, like a pile of chopped-off locks, they brushed aside a standard business model for a plan generated from simple concepts like community building, variation and acceptance. “Part of being a space that’s built around nonjudgment is one that’s centered around change,” says Kimberly. “The space is constantly changing to help [customers] feel comfortable with the reality that there’s one given thing: change.” That’s how the name American Mortals came about, they say, from the idea that we should embrace consistent transformation.

As hippy-dippy as they admit their theory sounds, it struck a chord in the local style community. After five years, they phased out the furniture element of the business to focus on the horde of clientele lining up to get their hair done. This budding customer base meant adding more chairs, and more chairs meant hiring new stylists, and suddenly Kimberly and Dave found themselves running a highly trafficked, profitable mecca of Philadelphia style.

Now 10 years in, the Bonds have a firmer grasp on what it means to own their own business — and they’re ready to have a little fun with it. They took over the lease of the neighboring, now-defunct Grasshopper boutique, doubling their space to 2,000 square feet. Now the stylist stations, constructed from repurposed shutters, inhabit the new area, creating room for a retail element in the other section. “It’s like a full-circle moment,” says Dave, who’s pumped to begin selling merchandise like curated gifts and objects, clothing, books and American Mortals-brand shampoo, conditioner and body lotion.

Also, harkening back to their fondness for change, Kimberly and Dave plan to redo the salon’s setup four times a year. Every season, their 11 stylists will rotate to a different location, and the lounge will be redecorated with artwork made by local creatives. They’re also considering weekly movie nights and a series of monthly beauty classes and trunk shows to showcase Philly-made garments and accessories. “We want to expose people to different things,” says Kimberly, “which goes back to the whole community thing.”

That’s really the thrust of the whole Style Issue, actually: From Joan Shepp, the style maven long on the scene, to the lineup of environmentally-minded artisans, the community, and the ingenuity that fuels it, really shines through.

PW: Steampunk! Hot pink suits! So retro. So funky. But it’s not all anachronistic fashion in PW’s Spring Issue. The real meat is a crop of new names and fresh faces who are overdue for exposure, and while that might include late-night lounge lizards and illicit cookies alike, what really pulled me was the story of an unlikely candidate for the city sheriff. Never mind that you didn’t even know we had a sheriff, and read on.

PW_cover_032311.jpgIt’s hard to imagine a 48-year-old woman who’s been arrested more than 200 times becoming Philadelphia’s new sheriff. Disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer are just a few of the charges Cheri Honkala’s faced while promoting welfare rights. But that’s what Philly’s most infamous embodiment of grass-roots guerilla protestdom, plans to do. And while Honkala’s outlaw days may be through, her law enforcement years may be just beginning.

“Building a large, multi-racial movement to end poverty … means we have to enter into the political arena,” Honkala says. “Because we’re pretty much going to have to wait until we’re dead if we want to see Democrats develop any kind of a backbone.”

If elected, Honkala says she won’t close the corruption-ridden office, as one of her Democratic opponents, John Kromer, plans to do. She says she’ll do one better: Work with City Council and the city’s poor to change the rules. After freezing foreclosures, Honkala plans on coming up with almost any idea imaginable to put an end to tossing families out of their homes. That includes: turning sheriff’s deputies into glorified social workers; setting up community service work, which would allow those at risk of foreclosure to work off their debt; giving control of abandoned buildings to community-developed land trusts; turning over confiscated homes to drug and alcohol rehabilitation services and creating employment for those at risk of losing their homes.

“I think we can come up with anything other than what we do now,” she says. “It’s wrong to throw people out … Period.”

The whole thing is summed up nicely in her campaign slogan: “Keeping families in their homes.”

A fired-up woman at the head of a grassroots movement poised to take down the Democratic establishment… oh, wait? It’s NOT Michelle Bachman? Or the Tea Party? I might just be able to get behind that.

INSIDE THE BOOK

CP: Suddenly Sicily. “An intimate feeling, some awkward stage banter”: Sign me up. Backpacking and bushwhacking: Hiking around Philly. Someone’s gotta stand up for Camden pit bulls.

PW: Khyber: Greasy, not gritty. We sold our soul for rock’n’roll, Vol. 2: We put our stock in indie rock. The future, hollowed-out face of City Council. Quiz Quiztofferson? I much prefer the Kidd Quiz radio show.

WINNER: The nod goes to PW this week for the beautiful bevy of weirdos they thrust into the spotlight. Quizzo hosts, political candidates, business owners, and entertainers: it’s a great mix that truly reflects the spirit of our city, God help us.

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