Why can't Lyle Goodman, a New York kind of guy who hates this friggin' town, put his signature on 13th Street?
"If we're so mobbed up," asks Lyle Goodman, "why has she not received a dead fish on her doorstep?"
She, of course, is Ruthanne Madway, the community activist who doesn't want Signatures in her neighborhood.
"Right?" Goodman asks. "If we're part of that organization, why is one woman standing in our way?"
He leans forward and narrows his gaze. "One woman," he says, "between us and what we want? Why has she not received a dead fish?"
Goodman's question is both beside the point and a point well taken. It seems unlikely the mob, in the midst of a public spat with a single middle-aged woman, would risk public exposure by threatening her. Then again, if these guys are mobbed up, how were they stymied by a woman running a nonprofit agency?
Though Madway cooperated with this article, she declined to say much on the record. DeMone and Goodman may take their legal dispute with her personally, but Madway calls it business. As to how East of Broad blocked Signatures from expanding, she offers a succinct answer.
"Democracy is wonderful," she says, "Whoever they are, however deep their pockets might be, they have to work within a system, a system with checks and balances. And right now that system is working."
Dusk Settles on 13th Street
"Okay," says Lyle Goodman, striding up to the entrance of the Lenox at 13th and Spruce. "This is where she lives." (She, of course, is Ruthanne Madway). "So let's start from here and walk down the street so we can get the same vibe she gets."
From here, Signatures is pretty much invisible, and the block takes on the air of a street party, with most of the crowd bunched together across the street from the strip joint. A discreet team of drug dealers appears to operate at one corner, but most of the action is verbal--the comic buzz of street life. Patrons from Bump, Woody's and Sisters keep business at the newsstand and the pizza shop hopping. As he crosses Locust Street Goodman wades right into the crowd, accepting handshakes and backslaps from the regulars and irregulars alike.
"Hey honey," he says, exchanging pleasantries with a massive black transvestite.
"Call the transvestites 'sweetheart,'" he says, "or 'honey' or 'darling.' It shows you understand them."
He pauses a beat.
"You can tell which ones they are," he says, "because they're wearing size-13 shoes."
Though he claims Philadelphia is an "unfriendly town" he seems entirely accepted here, even trying to broker a hook-up between a gay employee and a cute young lesbian woman. No go, but no harm done.
He's well-known and well-liked enough that he converses with patrons attending the gay clubs and even engages in a long, friendly conversation with a pair of undercover cops. Later, a beat patrolman strides up, smiles and says, "Good evening, Mr. Corleone."
Goodman beams at the joke, shakes the officer's hand and basks in the glow of acceptance from male prostitutes, drug dealers and cops alike--mob rumors be damned.
At one point a cab running North on 13th Street pulls up and a rumpled, sweaty, overweight man emerges with one foot still in the backseat. His skin appearing especially pale in the lamplight, he nods at a young black man who immediately joins him in the cab. Market capitalism, 13th Street-style.
PW's Holiday Guide 2014
PW's Taste of Philly 2014
Election Day 2014: Tues., Nov. 4