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Bill and his bike.

The new documentary about BILL CUNNINGHAM arrived from Netflix the other day and I watched it last night.

Here’s what I knew about Bill Cunningham before I watched the movie:

– He takes photos of real people wearing fashion on the streets of Manhattan.

– He works for the New York Times.

– He has a good eye for trends.

– He rides his bike a lot and he has a New York accent.

– He has a sense of humor.

Here’s what I learned about Bill Cunningham from the movie:

– He does not get paid for his job at the New York Times or any other job. He said getting paid would take away his creative control.

– He photographs the high society shindigs as well as the regular folks on the street.

– He speaks French with a New York accent. Totally endearing.

– He is kind in his photography. He never makes fun of anyone, only celebrates their creativity in fashion.

– It’s not about the people, “It’s about the clothes!”

– He repairs his $2 rain poncho with duct tape.

– He doesn’t use a computer and uses a camera that has real film.

– He is a NOT a paparazzi. “It’s not about the celebrity, IT’S ABOUT THE CLOTHES.”

– There’s something about religion that touches him deeply – and I don’t think it’s necessarily in a good way. But it works for him.

– He is in his 80s. His 80s!

– He ONLY rides his bike around Manhattan. Did I mention he is in his 80s!

Here’s the thing, about Bill; he is so completely himself and untouched by the glitz and crap that the fashion world can bring. When he was in Paris, he purchased the smock that the street sweepers wear and wore it to all the fashion events. His reasoning was that it was functional, it had lots of pockets for film, and if it got torn by the camera continually swinging in front of him, it was cheap and easy to replace. Makes sense to me.

Basically he just doesn’t give a hoot about what anyone thinks about him. He is so truly and unabashedly HIMSELF.

As I was watching the movie I had a few thoughts:

1. What the heck am I doing with my life?

2. Why do I care so much and often what people think about me?

3. It sucks that there are no cookies in the cupboard.

4. Bill is a shining example of the fact that it doesn’t matter what you wear or how you look – it’s your character and integrous interaction with the world that make you beautiful, even in the “world” of high fashion.

5. It’s crucial to be passionate about what you do for a living.

See the movie, look up his videos at the New York Times online and then, for goodness sake (!),  GO OUT INTO THE WORLD AND BE YOUR OWN UNIQUE, BEAUTIFUL SELF.

Thanks, Bill.

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