Mourning the ‘Man in White’ on the Lower East Side

Posted on: January 24th, 2019 at 5:08 am by

Orchard Street won’t be the same.

There has been an outpouring of grief in the week since Jimmy “Blanco” Becker, the so-called “man in white,” passed away from Lymphoma. News of his death seemed to touch a nerve on the hyperlocal level. You may not have known him personally, but his presence – dressed in handmade clothes of all white – always seemed a steadfast constant in a swiftly changing neighborhood.

Perhaps this connection of sight spurred everyone from neighbors to those who fleetingly crossed paths with the enigmatic Becker to share a memory.

A longtime resident of upper Orchard Street, Jimmy “Blanco” Becker attended NYU before succumbing to mental illness at some point in his mid-twenties. According to one of his neighbors, his ability to live in the apartment was owed to an arrangement between his parents and the landlord.

Through it all, Becker was lucky to have a tight-knit group of people looking out for him.

Vicki Rovere, curator of the Ludlow Street Free Store:

I regularly ran into Jimmy on the street late at night as I was scavenging the trash, collecting items for the Ludlow St. Free Store. I always said hello but never got an answer. But several years ago, he stopped and said, “I know who you are!” Ever since then we would exchange greetings; sometimes Jimmy initiated them. I got a few pieces of info from neighbors, but I’m happy to hear he got such great support.

Adrian Wilson, local artist and man about Ludlow Street:

Sad. Often saw him checking and rechecking and rechecking something extemely important in his own mind on random walls. He was obviously not all there but never really dirty and his stubble was always the same length!

One of his neighbors on Orchard Street:

RIP Jimmy. I’m so glad he got this lovely memory and that he made such an impression on people. He had his demons but I believe he loved his neighborhood and appreciated the people who acknowledged him.

Recent Stories

Developer Begins Demolition of Rutgers Street Playground for Temporary Parking Lot

Demolition work began this week on a Lower East Side park that is a focal point in the tension between the community and developers on the waterfront. The backhoes are out and job now underway at Rutgers Park, the small public space beside the Lands End II residential development. Removal of the playground began yesterday, including […]

The 3 Lower East Side Walk-ups that Sold for $35M

Earlier this month, we reported that SMA Equities, the Long Island real estate firm with controversial history on the Lower East Side, sold a portfolio of its area properties. SMA unloaded three tenement walk-ups to Daniel Fishman of GAIA Real Estate – 102 Norfolk Street, 177 Ludlow Street, and 99 Allen Street – for an […]

H&M Debuts Pop-up Hotel on the Bowery this Weekend

Fashion retailer, H&M, is headed to the Lower East Side this week with a pop-up hotel concept. Starting tomorrow, prospective guests can access the so-called Hotel Hennes via the eponymous 3 Freeman Alley. The three-day publicity stunt will be open through Saturday, from 2 to 9pm. Guests will be able to check in for an […]

Sneakerhead Arrested for Knifing Customer at Hypebeast ‘HBX’ Opening on Division Street

A watershed moment for Hypebeast transformed into a melee on the Lower East Side last week. The Hong Kong-based fashion and lifestyle publication on Friday officially debuted in the seven-story commercial loft building at 41-43 Division Street. Its ground-level store – dubbed HBX – attracted a queue of sneaker heads waiting for a limited edition Nike […]

Arsonist Torches Eldridge Street Beauty Parlor

Two people were injured yesterday evening after an arsonist set ablaze a beauty parlor on Eldridge Street, according to several published reports. The incident transpired shortly before 5:00pm at the Sa Sa II Beauty Salon, located at 129 Eldridge Street. Cops said the suspect poured gasoline inside the store and set it on fire. (Initial […]