News-making street denizen Jeffrey Hillman has just begun his third 15 minutes of Warholian fame. Hillman became the poster boy for charity and good will toward men back in mid-November when a kindhearted New York City police officer bought him a $100 pair of boots at a Skechers outlet.
Hillman made headlines again this past Saturday, when it was reported that his estranged family learned for the first time about his plight as a homeless man by reading about it in the New York Post.
On Sunday he was back in the news a third time. He was barefoot once more, but this time he also had his hand out. The whereabouts of his footwear tell a sad story about the unwritten and unruly code of life on the street. His outstretched hand tells a galling story of greed and the American dream gone bad.
First, the fate of his boots. “Those shoes are hidden,” Hillman told The New York Times. “They are worth a lot of money. I could lose my life.” It’s a pitiful catch-22. If he wears the boots, his safety and well-being are compromised. If he keeps them in hiding instead of on his feet, he risks the consequences of a brutal city winter.
Hillman, the article notes, is grateful for his gift. But he is not without sin or guile. That is clear from another message he delivered to reporters:
I was put on YouTube, I was put on everything without permission. What do I get? This went around the world, and I want a piece of the pie.
One sort of hopes that this chapter of the story marks its conclusion. Don’t be surprised, however, if Jeffrey Hillman is back. And don’t be shocked if he is in the company of a copyright lawyer and an agent.
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