ENTER THE MIND of a serial litterbug, the empty-souled trash tosser, and you'll find a person who can't differentiate right from wrong, or a Philadelphia street from a garbage dump.
These people don't love trash, like Oscar the Grouch; they simply don't think about it at all. They're the Ted Bundys of improper waste disposal, tossing a beer can with the same hands they use to pray or pet their dog, with no remorse.
"Those kind of people are crumbs. They just don't care," said Mario Monzo of DeMarco's Deli, on Jackson Street near South Philadelphia High School.
Last year, South Philly High was one of several spots Mayor Nutter spruced up during the city's annual Spring Clean Up. The Streets Department said that more than 11,000 volunteers, including actor Tony Danza, helped pick up about 1.3 million pounds of trash and that the city's "keep up the sweep up" motto was aimed at staying clean long after the camera crews left and the enthusiasm waned.
The Daily News visited some of last year's cleanup spots before today's fourth-annual Spring Clean Up to see if the mayor's message has caught on and whether we still need a yearly reminder to be neat. Sadly, we found trash. Lots of it.
The garbage hugging the curbs on Jackson Street ranged from the usual crush of cigarette butts and plastic bottles to little girls' shoes and prescription bags from local pharmacies. On Broad Street, in front of the high school, dozens of promotional postcards from a real-estate office stuck to the pavement, at least a half-dozen Starbucks cups rested in the grass, and there were countless newspaper pages crowded against the school's fence.
Kim Massare, president of the Lower Moyamensing Civic Association, volunteered to clean up the area last year, but she doesn't love picking up half-eaten hoagies or urine-filled bottles.
"It wears you down, but somebody's got to do it," she said "I believe that people, if given the choice, would not want to live in filth."
Massare said she sees people trying to be neater in the area in their own, often wrong, way.
"I'll see people shoving their trash into sewer drains," she said. "They actually think that's where trash goes."
The Streets Department has a fairly expansive website, www.philadelphiastreets.com, to tell people what to do with trash. There's advice on how, when and where to put it; on how to make a neighborhood or block a "Litter Free Zone," and on the do's and don'ts of recycling. It's an incredible amount of information for such a simple issue.
"It's not rocket science," said Phoebe Coles of Keep Philadelphia Beautiful.
Emaleigh Doley of Germantown plans to enlist her block of West Rockland Street into the Litter Free Zone by recruiting the children, the source of and possibly the solution to her trash issues there.
"Not everyone is interested, but the kids are generally receptive," she said.
Deputy Streets Commissioner Carlton Williams acknowledged that it would take someone who cares, or someone with Internet access, to visit the department's website in the first place.
"It's about apathy. The biggest problem we face is convincing people not to throw their garbage on the street," he said.
In Kensington, a few blocks from another location Nutter visited on Frankford Avenue, empty lots and stretches of land near railroad tracks have become public dumps filled with construction materials, tires, broken televisions, and bloated trash bags.
The St. Joe's Prep campus in North Philly was fairly clean, but the trees surrounding the school had their share of plastic bags snagged in the branches. An effort to ban plastic bags in the city was defeated a few years back, thanks in part to lobbying from the American Chemistry Council.
At 18th and Seybert streets, just a block from the school, bottles, soggy cigarette packs, and empty snack bags piled high in an empty lot. There was hope around the corner, though, on West Thompson Street, as an elderly woman leaned on her old broom in her purple jacket and wool hat.
"I've been sweeping up here since 1951," said Roberta Simon, 90. "I try my best."