No, this guy just sat out in front of the Whole Foods... selling vegetable peelers. I thought it was absurd, an old man in a suit peeling vegetables and rattling on about how these were the best peelers in the world, how to properly peel potatoes and carrots.
But there was something about him that I couldn't get out of my head. And so I told my friends all about him. Turns out they knew him too. He was a Union Square celebrity. He had made millions selling his peelers on the street.
I only saw him that once... and it looks like I'll never see him again.
His was a particular kind of street theater in a city that delights in in-your-face characters who are, and are not, what they seem. For he was the sidewalk pitchman with the Upper East Side apartment. The sidewalk pitchman who was a regular at expensive East Side restaurants, where no one believed his answer to the “So what do you do?” question: “I sell potato peelers on the street.” Mr. Ades (pronounced AH-dess) died on Sunday at 75, said his daughter, Ruth Ades Laurent of Manhattan. She said he never talked about how many peelers he sold in a year, or how many carrots he had sliced up during demonstrations. She said he stashed his inventory in what had been the maid’s room of the apartment.If you know this guy, and didn't hear the news, I'm sorry to break it to you. Let's have a moment of silence for Joe. The character he brought to 14th street will never be forgotten, no matter how many people walk around with cats perched on their heads.