The Unknown Hipster

Bill and the pumpkins

Posted in Street by unknownhipster on November 1, 2009
Farmer's market_L

At the Farmer's market

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.


Bill's blue eyes

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 !


Bill Cunningham and his 35mm Nikon

I asked him if I could take a snapshot, he graciously obliged, and then slipped away after a little pat on my shoulder.

BillCunningham 4_L

Bill's smile

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.

12 Responses

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  1. Tobie Giddio said, on November 1, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    Wow. These drawings are wonderful as is your written portrait of Bill Cunningham. Just last night I took my three year old daughter trick or treating and we happened to find ourselves right next to the legendary Bill. What an incredibly awesome man..I took his picture with her as he just smiled and smiled snapping away at all the children. Incredibly heartwarming…

  2. ulla said, on November 2, 2009 at 12:23 am

    hahahaha… I love your writing style! I always felt exactly the same way about the farmers market on union square. seems like we go to the same places at the same time, maybe one day I spot you.
    your blog is so fun, I wish i would have your skills.

  3. editor said, on November 2, 2009 at 11:05 am

    that poor pumpkin pile. i hope they didn’t feel too self-conscious.

  4. STYLE SCANNER said, on November 2, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    And alas no more Vegetable Peeler Man to help counter the self-satisfied apple sniffing middle classes.

  5. Ensuite said, on November 3, 2009 at 10:16 am

    Même éblouissement fashion-thing à Paris devant les cagettes encombrant nonchalammant l’entrée de Rose Bakery!

  6. Jolie Jamie said, on November 5, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    Such a nice post! Great drawings too! Can’t wait to read more of the Unknown Hipster!

  7. agata28004 said, on November 7, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    We all are a mix of ordinary, common orange pumpkins, and clockwork oranges. Love the description of the ridiculous models…

  8. Agathe said, on November 7, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    We all are a mix of ordinary, common orange pumpkins, and clockwork oranges. Love the description of the ridiculous models…

  9. Sabine said, on November 9, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    Nice story with great pictures. I keep checking your blog ever so often if you’ve posted something new. xoxo Sabine

  10. Anna said, on November 11, 2009 at 10:55 am


    I really enjoyed this post and your blog.
    I really love you critic eye towards the society.
    Please keep going on and do not turn into one of those fake-positive blogs!

  11. Cinephile said, on November 24, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    Ok,its official. You and I were separated at birth, I know it! Its ok, one day we’ll reunite.
    I was just thinking how great Bill Cunningham was and how someone should pay tribute to him, but not in a stupidly idolizing sort of way. You obviously have a lot of respect for him.
    Its a little embarrassing to admit that the first thing I do on a Sunday morning is to check for ‘On the Street’ updates. God,I love his voice.

  12. La Rimule said, on June 18, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    J’adorerais croiser Bill Cunningham dans NY ! Quelle chance !

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