Frank Rizzo on Broad Street

It’s 1982, and I’m walking North on Broad Street not far from the Philadelphia College of Art where I was attending at the time when suddenly former Mayor Frank Rizzo appears larger than life. I’m not sure if there was an occasion for his appearance, but he was happy to stop and press the flesh or chit-chat with passers-by as he slowly made his way to wherever he was going. I had my 35mm SLR loaded with a roll of Pan-X for some seemingly senseless assignment in the photography elective all illustration students were required to take. I decided that Philly’s own Big Bambino was going to be more interesting than any one of my painfully contrived shots so I squeezed off some frames.

I think I made a print of the frame above cropping out the woman and brought it in to school where upon the class had to put up with a political dissertation from the photography teacher. Other than a contact sheet and the one print, this is the first time these negatives have been printed. They have been sitting in a 3 ring binder for about 3 decades.

His appearance seemed to generate a lot of excitement, and folks were happy to see him, and I was happy to take some pictures that weren’t tedious still lives or faux-art ironic juxtapositions .

The shot below is interesting in that it was the very end of the roll, and I got half of an exposure. I was able to grab it with my scanner, and the image ends up being interesting like a lot of stuff I do – by accident.

Thanks, Frank. You were the most interesting part of that dreary and expensive photography elective.

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5 Responses to Frank Rizzo on Broad Street

  1. chuck says:

    he was certainly larger than life…when he had died, I had no idea that he had passed. I was so busy working and not allowed to listen to the radio while transporting clients, that I had no idea. I overheard two co-workers talking outside about whether they were going to attend the funeral…I asked ` who died ??~ and they told me `RIZZO !!` I didn`t believe them and actually had to see it in the newspaper….I, like alot of people, thought he was indestructable, an icon that would live on forever….thanks for the photos and story. I live in the south now, and the people here just don`t get `it` .

  2. Joe_Williams says:

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Chuck. I remember being similarly thunderstruck hearing of Rizzo’s passing.

    There seems to be a run on this particular post which I published almost two years ago. It didn’t make a big splash when I first ran it, but today it’s getting a lot of traffic. Can you tell me how you found us?

  3. tina kaupe says:

    Tina – love your expression “faux-art ironic juxtaposition” – is that like the comb-over in the first photo?

  4. Tina says:

    The brilliance is all Joe’s – he wrote the post, but in answer to your question – yes!

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