Election Year Blues: Help Us Flip the Script!

This year,  we struggled with finding a new topic for our annual holiday window display.

We’d already displayed photos of our South Philadelphia neighbors and of local celebrities from the 1960s….


What was left?   South Philadelphia restaurant owners?    Current local celebrities?    Favorite Philly athletes?   (Way too controversial!)

But one topic kept intruding in our heads.


Like many people,  we’ve been beaten down by the soul-draining divisiveness in the country this year.

Violence.    Name-calling.   Corruption.   Terrorism.   Racial and religious divides.   Following the news – particularly the election news – you’d think that the country and the entire human race were sliding down that greased pole to hell.

16_10_02-2-kate-newspapers-dc_8245“Uhm,  Dave,  do you have the comics?”

 And,  yes,  it even has a name:   Election Stress Disorder,  and everyone we knew had symptoms.


That’s when we did a reality check:  Because,   in our five years here,   we’d met hundreds of good-hearted people.    And – despite life’s inevitable bumps and heartaches – things weren’t looking that hopeless from our windows,  particularly compared with the rest of the world.

16_10_02-3-joel-spivak-arielle-pina-cm_5600Two of the reasons we’re glad we’re here:  architect,  artist and tireless volunteer Joel Spivak and talented young director,  dancer and actor Arielle Pina

So we decided to flip the script and start our annual holiday tradition early,  with the help of the city’s art community.   (And,  yes,  our South Philadelphia neighbors will be back in our windows on Thanksgiving week.)

16_10_02-4-passyunk-windows-cm_5590The new view from our windows.  A tad corny,  perhaps,  but reassuringly true:  the apocalypse isn’t quite here yet...


 This summer,  we searched out a cross-section of Philadelphia artists:   writers,  vocalists,  dancers,  musicians,  visual artists,  a comedian,  a hip-hop singer in a bluegrass band ,  and even an internationally known piano-playing cat.


Half of them had never met us.   All but one readily agreed to appear in our non-partisan,  pre-election windows holding one of our upbeat signs…


Most were photographed in our Passyunk Avenue studio,  and some we happily chased:  We caught up with South Philadelphia singing idol Bobby Rydell at an Asbury Park concert and book signing for his compelling new autobiography…

16_10_02-7-bobby-rydell-dc_6500Bobby Rydell

And we photographed retired Philadelphia Bulletin and Inquirer columnist Claude Lewis – Kate’s journalism idol from her St. Hubert’s High School newspaper days – at his New Jersey home:

16_10_02-8-claude-lewis-dc_8000Claude Lewis

And,  yes,  we’ll introduce you to all of these big-hearted souls in coming posts.


This weekend,  we posted their photos in our windows at East Passyunk Avenue and Tasker Street,  across from South Philadelphia’s “singing fountain”.    They’ll be there through election week,  lit daily from 4 pm ’til 1:30 am:

16_10_02-9-tasker-street-photos-cm_5602Part of the Tasker Street view


Of course,  even 28 optimistic faces don’t seem near enough in this rough election year.

So during the month of October,  we plan to photograph hundreds more smiling Philadelphians holding the same signs,  and we’ll post their photos here on our  Unexpected Philadelphia  blog.

Greetings from Philadelphia (and Asbury Park!)

Would you like us to photograph you or your (non-partisan) group?   Contact us here and we’ll do our best to arrange it.

…..AND  JOIN  US  HERE  ON  OCT.  8  &  29

You can also join us here at the corner of East Passyunk Avenue and Tasker Street on Saturday,  Oct. 8 or Saturday,  Oct. 29 from 2-7 pm for a free VOTE exhibit by the Philadelphia Dumpster Divers art group.

And,  yes,  we’ll happily photograph you and your friends then for our blog.

No strings attached.   No ads.  Nothing to sell.

Just a reminder,  in this exceptionally unsettling election year,  of how much goodness and potential we still hold in our hands.

16_10_02-15-asa-maisie-cm_5576Student musicians and future voters Asa Schneeberg & Maisie Quinn

 Kate & Dave   (Click here for Part 2!)







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