In a city known for its love affairs with characters of varying and often debatable historical significance, Michael DeLuca, aka "Mikey Wild," was one of a kind.
The recent death of the so-called "mayor of South Street," a developmentally disabled punk rocker/man-about-town, is a bittersweet reminder of the inevitable passing of time and the aging of Philly's punk-rock pioneers.
Friends of DeLuca, who died of lung cancer a week ago at age 56, have started a movement to have his memory preserved with a mural placed somewhere along South Street.
The idea, says local disc jockey Robert Drake - who also was once among the crew who converged on "the hippest street in town" in the late 1970s - is to commemorate not just Wild but others who kept South Street offbeat even after one-of-a-kind places like the Grendel's Lair theater, and punk/goth music and clothing stores Skinz! and Zipperhead, gave way to bland national chains, including McDonald's, the Gap, and Starbucks.
More than 1,000 people have signed on to a Facebook page about the mural idea, paying tribute to a guy who could be in-your-face, inappropriate, and downright out of line, but was as much a part of South Street's colorful history as the Krass Brothers' menswear "Store of the Stars" or Isaiah Zagar's celebrated Magic Gardens gallery.