i now know what heaven feels like, or “he who seeks beauty will find it”

my friends and fellow citizens,

surely you know by now about my passion for a certain older gentleman. that’s right. you guessed it. i’m talking about the delightful shutter bug bill cunningham, of course!

i will admit, i came to his column digitally (a rarity for this luddite!) and what a treat its been to not only see his selections flash by as a slide show on the nytimes website, but also to hear his mahhhvelous narration. for me, listening to his thoughts and ruminations in that dear boston accent is half the joy.

and speaking of joy, what an utter delight it was to experience–both aurally and visually–a whole 88 minutes of this monastic man tonight (the documentary plays at film forum.) he’s so frugal he made even my father seem princely–and my dear old pops is the frugalest on planet earth! (we are of new england stock, i’ll have you know.) anyhoodle, in this particular moment of the film, mr. cunningham is dealing with a black poncho. “they’re so cheap. you wear it twice and it starts to tear around the neck.” (he breaks out some black duct tape) “well, why buy a new one if you know it’s going to tear?!” he jokes, smiling broadly. “it seems to embarass everyone but me,” he says with a satisfactory pat of tap to poncho. and off he goes on his bicycle.

the movie is not all laughs. there are some very moving moments. especially when mr cunningham receives a fashion photography award in paris and enthusiastically gives his acceptance in a mixture of english and french (pronounced with old timey boston flare, naturally) near the end of his speech he cries out, “he who seeks beauty will find it!” overcome with emotion, tears seem to well up in his eyes. as i wiped away my own salty lacrime i notice those around me did the same and it was punctuated by quiet sniffles of respect, love and admiration.

if bill cunningham is not in heaven, then i won’t want to go,
kippy

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