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: Just when you thought you’d recovered from PW’s cover story a couple weeks back about the mind-boggling horror of the Gosnell clinic in West Philly, here comes CP with more harrowing tales of under-the-radar, outside-the-law abortion clinics. It’s not as gory as Gosnell’s, but the sketchiness behind their operations is comparable.

Fifteen clinics were issued “notices of deficiencies,” mostly regarding relatively minor infractions. But one case among still-open facilities stood CP_4_1_11.jpgout: Six pages of violation notices were issued to a single abortion clinic — violations that have not yet been reported by the press — connected to a man named Steven Brigham.

Brigham, like Gosnell, has overseen abortion procedures in Pennsylvania for decades. Like Gosnell, he’s run afoul of the law — throughout his career, in fact. And, as was the case with Gosnell, abortion providers and women’s health advocates say they’ve alerted the state repeatedly to concerns over Brigham’s clinics.

One big difference, however: These clinics are still open.

What’s more, despite a recent Department of Health order prohibiting Brigham from “directly, or indirectly” owning, operating or starting an abortion facility in the state, City Paper has found that he still plays a role in at least two clinics in Pennsylvania — a revelation that has infuriated other abortion providers and women’s health advocates. The Brigham case, sums up a blunt Carol Petraitis of the Pennsylvania American Civil Liberties Union, “is bureaucratic inefficiency at its most glaring.”

Positively clutch reporting from Holly Otterbein, who musters all kinds of journalistic muscle. Though the story’s not entirely Philly-centric — Brigham’s semi-headquarters are across the river in Jersey, and issues from clinics in Pittsburgh and Allentown are at the heart of the story — CP does its duty anyway and reports the hell out of it.

PW: A look at women in the city’s comedy scene through the lens of Amie Roe and Kristen Schier, as well as the recently-departed (no, she didn’t die; she just split town) Meg Favreau. It doesn’t get off to a promising start — “It used to be that women weren’t funny. That’s what men said, anyway.” — but it ends up being a pretty illuminating take.

PWcover033011.jpgRoe and Schier first met while taking classes at PHIT in 2006, the first year it opened. It wasn’t until last year that they decided to take their friendship to the next level and become an improv duo, but already they’ve scored themselves invites to improv festivals in Seattle and Baltimore. Later this month they’ll be heading to the Chicago Improv Festival and in May, they’ll perform for the second time at Philly’s Duofest.

“I think Philly is doing something right in terms of attracting more women in the improv scene,” says Roe, adding she thinks it might have something to do with the fact that PHIT has several female instructors. “I find that when I teach a class, whatever level it is, there’s more women in it than other classes.”

Meanwhile, at the most renowned improv schools in the country, she notes you’ll find only maybe one or two women teaching. Which is odd because women may actually have a funny bone. Biologically speaking, many comedy scholars argue that improv is actually a feminine art form. “We have twice as many connections as men’s brains in our corpus callosum,” Roe says with a laugh. Men communicate better side to side because they’re programmed to hunt something” while “women’s brains are wired to connect to people face to face.”

Wait, it gets funnier. Guy: ““Meg makes sure to tell me when I’m being offensive towards women.” Girl: “And Rob makes sure to hit me whenever I’m wearing too much makeup.” Don’t let the laughter fade when you drop this week’s issue in the recycling, though; these comediennes let us know that live comedy, whoever’s delivering it, is worth supporting.


CP: Fear and loathing on the Penn Student Government (?) campaign trail. L.A. Angels: Not just a major league baseball franchise. Let’s hear it for the ‘burbs: MontCo Mexican. Dept. of Cooler and Tastier than It Sounds: Where soil, food and art meet.

PW: A new shelter opens, then closes. We don’t find out that second part til halfway through the article, though. Taking aim at online bullying. Ol’ Tasty Bastard. Stollenwerkin’ it: A seafood empire’s southern reaches.

WINNER: CP comes through with some major reportage to claim this week’s title. I’ll admit I was hoping for some Phils coverage in honor of opening day. Where have all the sportswriters gone? Where are G.W. Miller and E. James Beale?

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