Old City

I recently painted a wall in my hometown of Philadelphia and in the process learned a lot more about the City of Brotherly Love; Cheez Whiz doesn’t contain any cheese, Ben Franklin designed the first coin minted in the states, the 1787 Fugio Cent which is inscribed with the (very Philly) phrase MIND YOUR BUSINESS, The original Stetson Hat factory was in North Philly and Rick Dobrowoski invented the Citywide Special at Bob and Barbara’s. That last sentence is a worn out messenger bag filled to the flap with Philadelphia, so allow me to start a brand new paragraph to unpack it all.

When I first met my wife Maryanne she had unfinished business with her ex-boyfriend. Rick and Maryanne had broken up but still had records belonging to each other. Incompatible schedules and maybe the hope of reconciliation kept them from settling affairs. It’s the type of scenario that usually ends bad for someone, sometimes the new boyfriend, but when they finally traded hostages, they each got all their records back and stayed friends. I was impressed with the both of them, they lost love AND gave back the good records. I thought I was a better man than Maryanne’s old boyfriends, but Rick made me doubt it.

Rick Dobrowoski was a music promoter around Philadelphia. In the course of his work, he landed at Bob and Barbara’s bar on South Street. Bob and Barbara’s is a magnetic place that generations of Philadelphians have called their second home. When I painted the bathrooms of Philly bars in 2014, I made It my second stop.  When Rick worked there 10 years before, he convinced the owner to serve a 16oz can of Pabst and a shot of Jim Beam for $3.50. It was as popular as $1 pizza slices and probably just as good for you. They now call it the Citywide Special because every bar in town offers some variation of it. Yes, its just a shot and a beer special, but the name and the fact that it gets credited to Rick makes it interesting.  Rick promoted great shows around town and had a great attitude to match. It makes sense that he gets the credit for The Citywide Special, people want him to have it. It’s the Philly version of knighthood.

Most of the names that are on the wall are people and places you never heard of but all hold some importance in the life of the community that is Philadelphia. There are stories that I can’t even tell, but they will be told in the shadow of the wall. But I can and will sing the praises of Frankie Smith, Arctic Splash, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Jim Obrien. Look them up, they are all great people and good to know, except Arctic Splash which is really neither, but still a huge presence in Philadelphia.

Speaking of the Philadelphia attitude that made me, here is our latest print. Never Better is a hand-pulled 12″x12″ screen print from the Forth Avenue Print Shop (located 9 crooked steps downstairs from ESPO’s Art World). It is printed on 335 gram Coventry Rag in a signed and numbered edition and it is $200. we also have 3 versions of a screened and painted version on 24″x24″ aluminum for $750. The profits from the aluminum pieces will be sent to help relief efforts in Puerto Rico. Thank you and its good to be home in Brooklyn and Philadelphia.