People In My Neighborhood

I am a lousy street photographer. In my mind’s eye, I can visualize everything so perfectly. I know a good shot when I see it. The problem is that I get very nervous photographing strangers. So I just snap and run. But I can’t help it. I actually cringe when I see privileged art school girls in their expensive, carefully planned out “casual” attire, earnestly photographing old men playing chess in Bryant park. It’s embarrassment by proxy.

And yet I have no problem writing about people behind their backs.
So, here’s what’s going to happen. I’ll be subjecting you to my shockingly unprofessional photographs of people in my neighborhood. And since these shitty pictures aren’t actually worth a thousand words, I’ll describe them for you:

This guy on the phone is someone I call Gilligan. The man hopscotches from restaurant to restaurant, cafe to cafe, preferring to dine al fresco, but always wearing that Gilligan hat. I mean he never, ever takes it off. I see him several times a week and I have no idea what the top of his head looks like. He must have a multitude of these Gilligan hats: back up Gilligan hats, special occasion Gilligan hats, emergency Gilligan hats, date night Gilligan hats. I honestly don’t know what he would do if a swift gust of wind or my hand were to rip it off. He might pass out from shock.

I refer to the guy pictured here as “The Peacock”. I snapped this photo around Christmas. I don’t have a more current one, as recent sightings have been rare. I think it’s because his daily attire is not suitable for warm weather: every single time I see him he’s wearing silver glitter platform boots, a pimp hat with feathers that stick straight up two feet in the air, a purple or gold Lamé suit, and a Fu Manchu mustache. He also uses a walking stick for his promenades. The costume does vary a bit with the seasons. As you can see, in the winter he tops it all off with a full length faux-fur coat.

But the best thing about The Peacock is that I always see him wearing this fanciful attire in the supermarket. He usually just stops in to buy one can of beans. Or one can of Campbell’s soup. Or one can of creamed corn. He’s actually carrying a shopping bag in this photo. I bet if we could see what’s inside we’d find a solo canned good of some sort.

Here’s to you, Gilligan and The Peacock. I hope you never leave our neighborhood.


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