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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Death of a Salesman, one of New York's best. Joe Ades.

Click to read obituary.
Joe Ades Obituary NY TIMES

I wrote the following article in November of this past year when I was fortunate to find Joe Ades preparing his craft of selling peelers outside my day job. I talked with him, learned a bit about him and am really happy I photographed and videotaped his entire pitch. He was a sales icon of the city streets for many years and he will be missed. I found out he passed on from an email that The New York Times sent me requesting a picture from my sight , however I didn't get the email until late last night and there were plenty of other photos on the net. This is a repost of my article in tribute to Mr. Ades who was what New York is all about. If you have not read it before, you will enjoy it, and if you have, enjoy it again. I'm glad I have a peeler from Joe, I will think of him often, just as I did the day before I found out he passed on while I peeled carrots with it. Life. Always playing tricks on us. My condolences to the Ades family.

From November 2008:

Joe Ades is an infamous moving landmark who traverses the city streets pitching his one product, a potato peeler. Yes, you heard me, a potato peeler. He refers to himself as a "grafter" and not a salesman, he pointed out to me that he learned his trade in impromptu markets over in England where people would be hawking their own items like shoelaces to cough medicine. There is a reason he sits down which is how all the grafters did it in England he says because you can have a crowd around you and by passers can't see what's going on and therefore will be so curious that they will join the audience and watch Joe's brilliant performance.

He is 74 years old and this is him set up on Wall St Monday morning when I got to my day job. I spoke to him briefly as he ate his early lunch preparing for a busy day he told me. I then saw him later on my own lunch break and video taped this New York legend. He is supercool and does what he does better than anyone I've ever seen pitch a product on the streets of New York. Joe lives on Park Avenue and frequents The Hotel Pierre bar where he is known to polish off bottles of Veuve Cliquot champagne along with the regulars who know him very well there as I learned later. Read on, check out his work and enjoy the videos I took of him on my lunch break.

As you can see he decided to turn around and face Trinity Church when I returned on my lunch.

This is the bucketful of the product he sells, Star peeler.

He also shows off on his cart all the notoriety he has gotten in the past from Vanity Fair, The Daily News and the New York Post and others. Surely my article will be on there as well if Joe wants to make even more money.
Definitely a slice of the action, he just sits there and creates a buzz. Wherever he goes.
Joe on the Post.
More media publicity.
The Perfect Pitch man begins his routine, no one around, he just starts talking and showing how the peeler works and slowly people stop and listen. Cool stuff.
Now he's getting them hooked.
Showing off his Iron Chef skills.
I wonder if he is a Guinness book candidate for most carrots peeled ever?
Hook....Line....and BUYER !!!! She looks quite happy with her purchase !!

In the following videos you can hear a guy trying to ask him about the books he sold ten years ago to which he ignores, stays professional and continues on, also in the second video which shows his full show. The bells of Trinity Church are ringing but Joe can drown them out with his passion for the peeler.

And yes indeed......The King had to buy a few too, thats my hand holding this AMAZING product that you know you want to have now.

So in closing, Joe Ades was a character that gave New York that special pulse and New York has certainly lost its pulse for a moment, but that's where new people like Mike Alaska The Drummer, Otis Houston The Black Cherokee, ALL my fellow NYC taxi bloggers, ALL my blog readers, New Yorkers, and I come in to bring the pulse back to a proper rhythm. Thanks for being a vein in the heart of the city pumping for so long Joe. It's the people who make up the arteries of this city to make it the great city it is, not greedy executives, unscrupulous politicians, billionaire socialites whose husband was pardoned by Clinton, lying brokers,crooked cops who shake down bars in Staten Island or the Mayor who pays them so little that they are driven to these acts of desperation and crime. Damn shame that it is.

Its us ....The People.

Joe worked hard, kept it simple and REAL.

Today Joe Ades, you are The King of New York, and one day I will help you peel some potatoes where you are in peace, as I will be one day too. Thanks for the memories Joe. Peace out peelers.


  1. I adore how you look around and really "see" the world.

    You impress me. Thanks for sharing Joe with the rest of us.


  2. Wow. Your tribute to the man was so moving then, as it is now, that I feel like I've had personal communication with him, as well.
    Thank you for that.

  3. A genuine tribute to Joe and his little corner of Wall St.

    I know he will be missed.

  4. What an amazing man he must have been!

    May he rest in peace.

  5. Peel on Joe. Peel on. I'll be thinking about Joe the next time I render a root vegetable.

  6. Thanks for letting us know. He died with his boots on and lived life to its fullest doing what he enjoyed best right until the end. My dad is 74 and a landscaper and still works a full day. He is still in demand for his skills and for him 'retiring' is not an option. Long live the oldies!!

  7. I remember the post from November and just from that every time since then that I've been peelin carrots I've thought 'Wish I had a peeler from NYC and could do it as well as Joe'

  8. I was peeling sweet potatoes and parsnips last night with a crappy peeler that kept clogging up, and I was thinking the entire time about your post and Old Joe, and how I wish I could buy a peeler from him.

    Awww. And then I read this this morning.

    If it weren't for you, I wouldn't have "known" this guy, but today, I take a moment for him.

    Thanks, King. You rock.

  9. A real character, we need more like Joe, sadly they are literally a dieing breed RIP

  10. oh, yes i remember the great article. And I remember talking with my parents about him. I hadn't seen him but for a few seconds. My father I think even told me to stop and wait for him to begin his show, his demonstration, as it was clear nobody sales pitched a peeler or anything anymore quite like he did.

  11. NYC people rock.

    Especially you, King.

    You ROCK!

  12. i am so sorry your friend died. god bless his sweet heart. i'm sure he's up there in heaven making deals like no one's business. you are a true new yorker. you actually "live" the city, ed, you really do. i hope one day i am privalaged enough to visit nyc and if i ever do i will for sure look you up because no one else would do, to show me around. you are the city, you breathe the city. may god always keep you safe there. there are crazies out there. please be careful.


  13. Only in NYC. Capitalism at it's finest.

    I'm sure this guy will be missed.

  14. Classic New York stuff King. And what we've come to expect from you...well done....

  15. Rest in peace ole peeler man...

    Now, I know somewhere in that city you will find another wonderful character to focus on...that's what is so great about DE CITY that never sleeps.
    A million stories, a million characters and one wonderful KING! :)

  16. That Nov. post was one of my favorites. Joe was a lucky guy to get the coverage that you gave him for posterity.

  17. I was sad to read & see this last year. I take solice in knowing he lived a long life and didn't have to live through another great depression. We are still learning from him ...

  18. When a tourist visits NYC there is so much to see that it is overwhelming. Coming to your blog, I feel like I get to see the small things that get lost in the big picture. Thanks. I'm headed to your city again the last week of February. I plan to look more closely. I'll try to see the city through the king's eyes.

  19. What a great man! I love how you bring the real NYC to us. Bravo!

  20. As soon as I read about his death, I thought about your post. Thank you for that as I had never heard of him before you wrote about him. It's so sad. He seemed like such a lovely interesting man. NYC lost a piece of itself when he died that is for sure

  21. Dang! I was sure hoping to cross his path when I eventually got to come visit. :( I loved reading your post about him and watching the video and . . .well dang!

  22. This is off subject, but you will possilby be interested that I wrote a post supporting A-Rod, even though I am a Boston fan. Come check it out.

  23. I'm so glad you interviewed him - and I loved hearing his voice. I smiled at the comment his daughter made at the end of his obituary - about how she'd sometimes go to look for him at the end of the day and would find he'd sold out and had already left. She could tell where he'd been, though, by "the little shreds of carrots" left behind.

  24. Oddly enough, the guy who counts the money at my cab company is named Ades.

    Perhaps you could give us a few panhandlers, they're real characters too, and they make an amazing amount of money if they're any good. Which leads me to wonder what happened to TOP, I haven't seen him in weeks, hope he's ok. Nor have I seen the lady who plays the sax in front of Winter Silks. Guess it's been kind of cold.

  25. I remember reading this when you wrote about it in the fall. God Bless him.

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