This is the ballad of Joseph Frank and Frank Joseph.
The Tartaglia brothers. Sons of the Italian Market.
Joe's gone. He passed. And now, Frankie's leaving Ninth Street. He doesn't want to spend his life on the block. He wants to chase his dreams - give it one more shot. He's going to Los Angeles to try to make it in the movies. His flight leaves Monday.
"I got a lot of fear," Frankie said the other night at his Ninth Street music space, Connie's Ric Rac. "Part of it has to do with my brother, and part of it - I've just got to try again."
Joe was older. When they were kids, Joe would torture Frankie until he cried - then make him laugh. The pattern stuck.
They grew up in the market, at their father's fruit stands.
"It's a dog's life," Joe Sr. would bark at his boys. "You should be doing something else. You should be doing what you should be doing."
Performing was Joe and Frankie's thing.
The first time Frankie went to New York, he went on show business. He was 11. He had won a spot in an HBO kid comedians contest. He told jokes about being Italian and being chubby.
The first time Frankie went to L.A, he went on show business. He was 15. He and a buddy won 10 grand performing a comedy song on America's Funniest People.
In 1998, Joe and Frankie made a movie together: Punctuality. Like if Clerks meets A Bronx Tale, Joe would say.
Joe directed. Frankie starred. They filmed it in the neighborhood. They sold VHS copies at their father's stands for $5.
For a time, Frankie wrote for an MTV comedy show. Joe played professional poker. They always came back to Ninth Street.
In 2006, Joe Sr. gave the boys a spot he owned near Ninth and Washington - to open a performance space.
Frank handled booking, bartending, cleaning - everything. That's what Joe told him. "Frankie, you're supposed to be on top of everything."
Joe had a fear of ever being kept waiting. So he always came late. Every night started with Joe and Frankie fighting. Every night ended with them hugging.
Joe handled sound. Joe never did sound, but he figured it out by figuring it out. That's how Joe was. Speakers often blew.
"You need compression," a repair man said.
"How much is compression?" Joe asked.
"Frankie, you're going to have to be compression," Joe said.
It was out of love.
"He wanted me to be prepared," Frankie said.
Then Joe stopped coming around. He complained of headaches, then his eyesight. One day, he couldn't get his legs to move.
A brain tumor.
He went through one surgery, but wasn't going through another.
He had a dying party. Dinners at the house. Friends and family. He went fast. Frankie drew an ink tattoo on his brother's chest, a ship sailing away.
He died in May 2013, at 44, at home with his family, with his mother and father at his side and with Frankie holding earphones, so Joe could listen to the Beatles' "I Will."
Joe planned his own funeral. He wanted his casket wheeled in late, to make people wait. And he wanted Frankie to sing.
Soon after, Frankie took his first stab at L.A.
There was only so much he could do on Ninth Street. And he had done it.
But L.A. didn't take. He smoked too much pot. He sabotaged himself. He didn't feel prepared.
He came home. Moved into his parents' house. Into Joe's old room. He quit smoking and drinking. He wrote one screenplay and started another.
He hired someone to run the Ric Rac. It wasn't the same without Joe.
Last month, he booked another flight. He's scared, but he feels ready. He feels prepared.