April 17, 2012

Meeting My IDOL: Bill Cunningham

This morning when I finally succumbed to the idea that my cold is over and I'm ready for my 1.5-hour bikram (aka hot yoga) session, I didn't know that my day would turn out to be even better - even better than getting over a very bad cold and enduring a hot yoga, which every time I do it makes me 'hate it' during the process and 'love it' right after... 

As I finished with the yoga, which I've finally come to accept in my life - [being more a fan of cardio workouts, like biking, rollerblading, and jogging] - I was walking back home, enjoying the second day of the absolutely gorgeous spring weather in New York, feeling the sun, seeing how the 'working Manhattan' is buzzing around like a busy termite's colony and indulging in the idea that it's time to take the zoom lens and the camera onto the streets and do some street fashion shots around Soho, West Village, Union Square...

As I was walking and day-dreaming, I came about an intersection in Midtown Manhattan, which I almost crossed as I've noticed my IDOL, waiting patiently on a bike to cross the street. It was Bill Cunnigham, the notorious street and society fashion photographer from the New York Times Style's On The Street section. I could not believe it! 

I neither ever approach a celebrity, nor do I get too impressed by them. Even back in the days when I ran into Woody Allen on 92nd Street and Lexington Ave as he was exiting the 92Y culture and community center, I wasn't that star-struck with him as I was today, when I ran into Bill Cunningham - the man, who I've been adoring for years. 

The man, who I've written  about. The man, whose work inspired me to do street fashion photography. The man, whose personal, individual lifestyle and approach to life and fashion in general has been an example for me - humble to the very bones of his body, Bill is known for his down-to-earth lifestyle - [he never even eats and drinks at the fabulous society and fashion parties, where he shoots, because he believes it's unethical to the work aesthetics!]

The man, who's been riding a bike in the city all his life, even when the city wasn't bike-friendly at all. I've been absolutely a big fan of this man, and here I am, standing next to him, seeing him very close, talking to him casually about my adoration for his work, my personal photographic endeavors, and answering his questions about my inspirations and life in the city... I could not believe that it was happening.

When I was taking a photo of him, unlike many famous people, who do not like it, he was so humble, so friendly that it made me respect and adore him even more.

As he rode away on his bike, wearing his famous blue coat that probably 'saw' crème de la crème of the New York fashion scene since the 60s, I felt like it was the absolutely highlight of my New York experience - I came close to the person, who is, probably, as iconic to the city as the Empire Building is.

Moreover, thanks to the city's devoted residents like Bill Cunningham, the New Yorkers are finally getting the opportunity to ride bikes in a more bike-friendly city. And even though he might have not meant it, but Bill made the city's culture of biking and rollerblading very, very stylish...

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