ultra, nostalgia

I owned a pair of these sneakers once, a long time ago, and probably when they were still made in the United States. The Cortez they were called. They weren’t my first pair of Nikes, and they wouldn’t be my last. In fact, I remember my first pair of Nikes, canvas high-tops with a black swoosh, bought at the JC Penney store in the Camillus Mall. What is it about sneakers that captivates us so? It didn’t skip a generation because my seven-year-old son is the same way, even though his obsession with footwear sure didn’t come from me. I also remember my dad buying me a pair of leather Nike high-tops from a discount store in my hometown. They were a size 12, a full two sizes bigger than what I wore. This would have been my freshman year in high school. I remember stuffing paper in the toes so they didn’t slip off my feet in gym class. Thinking back on this reminds me of an old Laverne & Shirley episode I saw when I was a kid. Laverne comes back from a shopping trip and pulls a gigantic pair of ladies underwear from her bag. Shirley asks what size they are. Laverne replies they’re a size 62, but they were on sale. I’m thinking about this because I went to a sporting goods store this evening to buy a six-pack of athletic running socks. They were black, low-cut, like the Fab Five wore, and made by Nike. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they were made in the USA. Not much is anymore, and I know that Nike is still making shoes overseas with questionable labor practices that sell for $150 and that people fight and sometimes die over. What is it about shoes, not just Nikes, but any shoes, that make us love and covet and fight and steal and sometimes die for? I know Nike has a bad reputation, but that swoosh, back when it was innocent, reminds me of my youth. Which was also innocent in most ways. And hard to let go. Meanwhile, and possibly unrelated, here’s a dose of nostalgia from the great Frank Ocean:

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One comment

  1. The Sage of Texas

    You might take the thoughts of this post a little further. Today met a young man preparing for his prom. He had just purchased, from the same company that rented him his white tuxedo, a pair of white converse tennis shoes to go with the suit. They were high-top tennis shoes, but made from the same material as cheap rental shoes and slicked over with, let’s say, polyurethane. The clash of informal and formal wear was not hard to notice, and became a topic of conversation.

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