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“There’s a little cafe/where they play guitars all night and all day” is one of the many fictional joints spawned from the imagination of Bruce Springsteen. In this case, the said “cafe” is immortalized in his classic jam “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight.)” And while you might not find it on a map, “The Little Cafe” now has its own t-shirt.

It’s part of a series of shirts benefiting Protect, The National Association To Protect Children. Their shirts have “de-fictionalized” locations in novels and classic stories, including the “Championship Vinyl” record store from Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity and “Mandrake Poison” from the “Mantua Apothecary” from Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.

Lou Bank is a board member of Protect, and the CEO of Ten Angry Pitbulls, the marketing company behind the shirts.  He told CBS Local that he has been working on these t-shirts for ten years, and that all the profits go to the National Association To Protect Children. After years of doing shirts based on literary locations, his friend, Springsteen biographer and fellow Protect board member Dave Marsh made a suggestion.  “He said, ‘Why don’t we take fictional places in songs and put them onto t-shirts?'” From there, they did two shirts based on Springsteen lyrics, “Greasy Lake” (a lyric the song “Spirit In The Night”) and  “Thunder Road.”

Bank usually works with the authors: he notes that he’s discussed ideas with Chuck Klosterman (there’s a “Screaming Lobos” shirt from his Downtown Owl novel), but that “Shakespeare hasn’t returned my calls.”  (Check out all their literary t-shirts here.)

He’s quick to mention that Springsteen’s name doesn’t appear on the shirts, and they aren’t “official” as such.  But they aren’t keeping anything on the downlow, either: you can buy all three Springsteen-inspired shirts at Backstreets, the very popular fansite.

Will there be t-shirts based on locations in other songs?  Bank hints that a “Surf City” shirt may be in the works. As for more Springsteen shirts, he says that Marsh has been soliciting suggestions from fans, so there may be more in the future (“Lucky Town” and “Mary’s Place” might be two good choices).

What locations from rock and roll songs would you like to see on a t-shirt?  Sound off in the comments section.

Brian Ives, CBS Local

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