What isn't so clear to residents, retailers, and visitors is what's going on in the gigantic mural in the middle of the block, which appears to depict a World War II-era submariner using a periscope to spy on actor Robin Williams. Curiously, Williams is holding a rosary.
Kathryn Ott Lovell, a spokeswoman for the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, acknowledges that the surreal wall art, copied from a painting called "The Pathology of Devotion by Vincent Desiderio," is one of the more thought-provoking murals around. The artist's intent, she said, is to represent the intersection of science and religion. The guy on the right is not Robin Williams in a puffy shirt but a priest hearing confession.
While the mural has its fans - "There are people here who understand what it means and love it," said RoseLena's owner Al Masino - it's slated for a paint-over soon. A new, even bigger mural paying homage to the 125-year history of the East Passyunk retail corridor is on the drawing board as a replacement.
So on to the next mystery: What's up with the East Passyunk parking meter hours, which extend until 9 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday, if you bother to read the fine print? Shopkeepers say the schedule is notorious for surprising after-dinner strollers with a nightcap from the Philadelphia Parking Authority. *