Bill and the pumpkins
So I went to the Union Square farmer’s market this morning. I really don’t like going there so much, but I thought it’s the only place I could find rhubarb this time of the year. The place is a bit ridiculous: people have the same exaggeratedly receptive, wide-eyed expression as when they are walking into a Chelsea art gallery, as if buy smoked bacon from the Flying Pig Farm has the same authority of an Art critic selecting a new artist’s monograph. Not to mention those couples who block the path with dogs and baby-strollers. They spend hours trying to single out the perfect carrot, or the most organic apple pheasant sausage for their non-vegan dog.
It’s worse during Fashion Week, when young models with rubber boots, infinite legs, and big knitted sweaters hold bunches of fresh-cut flowers tightly against their chests, as if they were in the working garden of a Scottish estate or a Moscow suburb dacha, straight out of a Tim Walker story for Casa Vogue.
Although this week was not Fashion-Anything, I immediately spotted the famed cobalt blue of Bill Cunningham’s work wear jacket. He was strolling down the crowded stands, looking equally at humanity and vegetables, with the same gentle and amused smile.
It was so comforting to see such an original and authentic character as the legendary Bill, with his discreet 35mm Nikon, in such an artificial surrounding !
I asked him if I could take a snapshot, he graciously obliged, and then slipped away after a little pat on my shoulder.
Minutes latter, as I was plotting my escape route through the back of a farmer’s stand when I saw Bill suddenly aiming his camera at a stack of pumpkins that was in front of me. For a second, I saw him have that unemotional stare of a predator, while shooting at light speed. Most fashion celebrities and famous socialites photographed by Bill are probably too self-focused to have ever noticed this cat-catching-a-mouse stare; they would have felt like an ordinary orange pumpkin.