Please note: This article is published as an archive copy from Philadelphia City Paper. My City Paper is not affiliated with Philadelphia City Paper. Philadelphia City Paper was an alternative weekly newspaper in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The last edition was published on October 8, 2015.

June 8-14, 2006

Naked City : Paper Trail

Paper Trail

Our Back Pages, One Year At A Time


The year was 1989. George H.W. Bush was sworn in. Emperor Hirohito died. Ayatollah Khomeini put a bounty on Salman Rushdie's head. Don Henley hit the top 10. The Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil onto Prince William Sound. Students protested in Tiananmen Square.

And yet, for the dirty little City Paper, it was a time of rebirth (publisher Bruce Schimmel took over as editor) and innocence. Back then you could put Michelle Shocked, Joey DeFrancesco and Todd Rundgren's mom on the cover. You could defend Metallica against accusations of Satanism. You could run a column like First Person Singular wherein readers and writers, sometimes pseudonymously, confessed their biggest embarrassments and sins.

Ray Murray, of Evening Magazine, won Best Talk Show Host in the Readers' Choice poll (well, he tied with Terry Gross and Arsenio Hall) and wrote in to say thanks. A letter asking upper-crusty food critic Holly Moore for a good place to get waffles got a straight-faced suggestion to drive south on I-95 to Waffle House. We ran ads for Señor Rattler's and went there when we felt like eating out.

Hard to believe, but City Paper still had yet to print an escort ad in 1989. Maybe our readers weren't ready. A March 10 letter from K. Lee in West Philly read: "Why the Playboy ad? Why do it? You jerks, I liked you before this." CP responded: "Two out of nine staffers at City Paper actually subscribe to Playboy, and we imagine that our readership might be interested. ... Frankly, this one was on the edge, and over the edge for a few people around here."

The ad in question was for the magazine's apparent "Girls of the Big East" issue. It featured a woman sitting on one basketball and twirling another on her fingertip. She's wearing a jacket, shorts, a dreadful hat and huge socks, so the only skin showing are hands, face and legs from shin to thigh. Her expression is the classic "surprised fish." Yeah, our readers weren't ready. (In case you're wondering, according to an informal poll, no current CP staffers subscribe to Playboy. Why should they? Our ads are a lot more interesting and our articles are way sexier.)

And then, on Dec. 1, this peaceful age was torn asunder when City Paper, naive and agreeable, gave Angelo Amorosi a column. (He wasn't A.D. then, nor was he a.d.) His weekly club culture dispatches were ... intense. He reported on Milkbar and Revival while referencing Burroughs and Lost in Space. "This columnist loves, loves, loves Bobby Startup to death and appreciates all he's done but me thinks this just too big and bitter a pill to swallow; for while it might be nice to drag out 'Orgasm Addict' or '53 Miles West of Venus' one more time, it's really scary to imagine people humming 'Cars' or bothering the owner of Third Street Jazz for old John Foxx records." For just one half page a week, the normally coherent CP became a hyper, hip, nauseating ride through the Philly underworld. People, it hasn't stopped. It cannot be stopped. You know what they say about inviting a vampire into your house. Sing it: This is end ... of the innocence.

We're counting down (or up) to our 25th anniversary. Next week: 1990! Dream Control! Deli Owners With Guns! Moms on Drugs! Crazy People!

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