Beginning with the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the North Philadelphia neighborhood of Logan experienced a massive change and shifting population. The racial boiling point in Philadelphia was ten years later in 1978.
Ben's is set in the summer of that year when turf wars, crime and political upheaval were rampant in the city. The central character, Torch, is a small-time numbers writer who works for Bah-Bah, the head of a lucrative gambling and loan shark operation in south Philadelphia. When Bah-Bah is forced to change the location of his business and go underground, he runs into some tense situations with the members of Ben's. They are a loosely organized group of young men-including Torch-who are engaged in various types of petty crime and hustles. The situation is made more complicated and dangerous by the existence of a hidden meth lab and several, local, rogue cops who want to find it and rip it off.
Sammy Levitt was born and raised in Philadelphia. He graduated from Temple University. He is a former Philadelphia city employee. His articles have appeared in Gambling Times, Win, and American Turf Monthly magazines. He has been an officer in the Roxborough Lodge Son's of Italy for over 25 years.
The book opens with a murder of a teegager by a rival gang. Philadelphia is in the hear of the mayors reelection bid. the gang wars were a political campagne issue because of the Mayors inability to stop it. virtually all of the gang-violence was black on black violence. the fact is that the black community was displeased with this mayor. However , from a political standpoint the mayor was not concerned because the black community in Philadelphia historically had a very low voter registration. But Ben's (of the title) is a small white gang who is involved in a gang-war with their black neighbor in Logan (a section in Nrth Philadelphia.) This is troublesome to the Mayor because if his adminastration's poor reputation to halt the violence filters into the white community, then the Matyor knows that he will lose the election.
Also in 1978, the first casino is built in nearby Atlantic City and organized crime concern who have been positioning themselves to run the rackets in a.C. and Philadelphia are involved in an organized crime war.In my book, these three things, the politics, the turf wars and th Masfia war become intertwined. A methamphetimine lab which in in the Logan neighborhoos in a vital part of the story as corrupt police are tring to rip it off.