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Cardella: Law and Order (South Philly style)

So, you’re moving into South Philly. Maybe you’re what they call this new generation — “millennials.”


So, you’re moving into South Philly. Maybe you’re what they call this new generation — “millennials.” Uncle Nunzi calls you crazy. He likes to say that one of your monthly mortgage payments is higher than the TOTAL amount he paid for his house. Regardless, I’m here to help you assimilate into our South Philly culture. Set you straight.

Most important thing to know? We’re very big on law and order around here.

You might have heard differently. You would be wrong. You think Frank Rizzo is worshipped around here just because he was born here. And it’s true that what used to be known as Rosewood Street is now “Rizzo” Street. Unofficially, of course. But it’s official enough around here. See, the Rizzo family moved out long before Big Frank ever figured out that his baby shoes would look nicer if they were spit-shined. Frank is loved because he was all about law and order.

What I’m going to do for you today, my friend, is help you fit in down here, although, you’ll never totally assimilate if you continue to wear those penny loafers without socks and that pink oxford, button-down shirt. Today’s lesson is: Law and Order — South Philly Style.” In that regard, it will help if you unlearn everything you ever knew about law and order, wherever it is you were brought up.

First: You have to learn what law and order in South Philly is not. Normally, we hate shootings in our neighborhood as much as you do. However, if the shooting is a revenge hit done by an “authorized” person, we mourn. We say nice things to the news media about the deceased, like “He was a nice family man. Bought fresh fruit for the whole neighborhood. Always said, ‘hello.’” We go to the viewing. Bring a mass card. Pay our respects. Mind our own business. This does not fall under a strict definition of law and order. Rather it is a method of cleaning house. Making way for “new blood,” no pun intended.

Be aware that we also have our own way of shopping. South Jersey malls are not the end-all and be-all. Why drive when you can buy a nice BOTANY 500 suit out of a neighbor’s basement. Chances are he’ll have a good selection in your size. He, he might even throw in free alterations. And again — you never have to move your car. You as a millennial might ride a bike, but it’s the same difference. By the way, we’re not hostile to bike owners. But don’t brag about your low carbon footprint. That we don’t appreciate.

Basement shopping is also available for lamps, TVs, and lots of other items. Just don’t ask for a 90-day warranty. Or gift-wrapping. You might want to tip your “salesperson” with a box of your wife’s butter cookies. If you’re told the stuff just fell off a truck, accept the discount and move on. The words “law and order” don’t apply to basement shopping.

If you’re at a neighborhood taproom (a bar without the fancy pub fare) and you’re asked if you want to buy tube socks, don’t be surprised. Same, if you’re ever offered to purchase meat out of the back of a station wagon. Be assured, it’s fresh and you’ll pay a whole lot less than your local supermarket charges. Just don’t ask if the meat is grass-fed or free of hormonal injections. This isn’t Whole Foods, you’re dealing with.

Regarding parking. You might have heard some unflattering things about the parking problem down here. That’s probably why you bought a bike. As I said, we won’t hold that against you. We tend to park wherever we can park. You might think our parking is chaotic because we don’t always follow your rules. For instance, we double park a lot. As a NEW resident, you’re not allowed by our code of rules to double park till live here at least five years. However, WE may double park next to your car. “We,” meaning us originals. South Philly rule. Deal with it. Just the way it is. Also, during snowfalls, be advised that if someone on your block shoveled the snow in front of his house, that means that’s his or her (because we are also sensitive to women’s rights) parking spot is owned until it snows again. Put a star next to this rule. People have bravely fought and died for this right. Be respectful. On occasion, a neighbor may put a chair in a parking spot in front of their house. This practice is done in rare instances when guests are coming to celebrate a holiday. Very, very often, you’ll find your neighbors have handicapped parking. In fact, you may be the only one on your block WITHOUT handicapped parking. This doesn’t mean that your neighborhood is heavily populated with disabled residents. Not at all. In fact, they may seem very healthy to you. Accept it as the privilege for living in this part of town. Again, be respectful. Someday, you too may get handicapped parking privileges. Or you can buy a bike.

Law and order around here is very basic. You get mugged. Your house is robbed. Some punk tries to deal your kid drugs. That must be dealt with. That’s law and order.

Oh, enjoy your new house or apartment. You got taken.

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