A New York Lock-down Visual Diary-Album 17
April 10, 2020.
As I exited Zabar’s yesterday afternoon. the store that has essentially kept me alive with food these past three weeks, I saw this gentleman standing in line waiting to enter the store. I had my camera on my shoulder as I always do, and upon seeing this man-me wearing a mask-I shouted, “you are so handsome, do you mind if I make a photograph of you”. Without speaking, he nodded his head in approbation and I made this photograph. I then asked him his name, and he made a motion again without speaking that it was not necessary to know his name. He is right. It isn’t necessary to know his name. I have thought a lot over night about this man and this moment. It is true he is not wearing a mask, and please, do not make any comments to that effect-any comment won’t change the fact that yes-he is not wearing a mask. But maybe he was doing something, many things, more than that in this case. This man, who clearly has lived a few years of this past century and certainly has seen a lot in his own life-with his choice of clothes, his hat, his gloves, his posture, his cane, his way of being-maybe he has chosen on this Passover and Easter weekend, to stand up, and with the elegance and grace which is clearly part of who he is-he has chosen to make a defiant statement at this moment and say clearly and loudly, “F…. You” to coronavirus. “You can try-but you will not take away my dignity, my pride, my courage, my hope, and my life-so just go away, and don’t even try to “F” with me “.
And maybe that was his way of saying this for all of us. There are somethings one will never be able to purchase on the shelf of a store-pride, dignity, courage, hope, determination, resilience, humility, decency, and love. And, like so many moments in my life when I have encountered people that have taught me lessons of life I couldn’t have learned in any other way than from observing them-I thank this man for standing up for all of us. God bless him, and God bless us all.
With love, Peter