Dad deckchair chilling in Nike Air Spans. His friend Ian is rocking the Reebok, reflecting the brand warfare of the time. Nike wins.
Chill. I’m not going to lapse into the vulgarities of emo blogging. I won’t get all Jay-Z and let the blog cry. That’s always excruciating to read. Even more than poorly punctuated 900-word mind flatulence on drug documentaries. Thinking about my dad on the fourth anniversary of his passing, as the boiling weather and World Cup anticlimax echoes the atmosphere of summer 2006, I’m in ultra reflective mode. The above picture shows my old man chilling at a tawdry local theme park circa 1989/1990 rocking the mighty Nike Air Span. He knew something I didn’t when he picked them up in Bedford’s Champion Sports.
I was preoccupied with the visible Air of the Jordan IV and the Air Max Light, and dad’s decision to pick up the relatively minimal Air Span seemed strange. My mum reprimanded him for spending £58 (minus discount) on something she perceived as dull too. He grabbed me a copy of an art book on Giger’s ‘Alien’ concept imagery that day too. Sports footwear and horror films. That’s why I loved him-the encouragement of my preoccupation with nonsense. I think he loaned me 25p to buy a battered copy of William Peter Blatty’s ‘The Exorcist’ that day too.
Strange how a warm Saturday’s purchases could resonate over two decades later. Nike might be putting out the dull 1991 version of the Pegasus, and the Span II was…pfff…whatever, but the original Span is a pretty strong shoe. It’s better than much of the era, and while the Pegasus and Icarus lines would be the poor man and dullards’ picks locally, I never saw anyone else wear the Air Span other than my dad. For that reason, I’d love to see it reissued. Time vindicated my father’s investment.
I’ve said it before, but I connected with my dad when he was facilitating my access to violent movies, late-night TV and, linking the ‘Alien’ theme again, when we worked on a model of an Alien Warrior guarding a facehugger filled egg together. That’s not trivialising a father-son relationship either.The small acts have a butterfly effect emotionally post-passing. Everyday acts are something to cherish. Him returning from the British Virgin Isles obsessed with Sean Paul back in 2002 was a strange moment of father and son synchronicity, leading to a bizarre pre-holiday daily workout session where he’d use his rowing machine to the sounds of ‘Dutty Rock’, visible behind a closed conservatory door taking occasional Budweiser swigs between artificial mileage. That is, until the rowing machine broke, possibly owing to this unorthodox regime. Happy days.
For this reason, as mentioned here before as a result of some bonding over film viewings a strange blend of flicks, some classic, some utterly trashy, bring back vivid joint-viewing memories. ‘Marked for Death’, ‘The Sword and the Sorcerer’, ‘Rockers’, ‘The Thing’, ‘Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday’, ‘Out For Justice’, ‘In the Heat of the Night’, ‘An American Werewolf in London’ and ‘Ricochet’ are important to me. Even weak ‘Star Wars’ copy ‘Starcrash’ has been elevated psychologically by dad thinking of me and sticking it on a 180 minute Dixons tape. He encouraged my peculiar nature rather than attempting to rid me of it, leading to the strangely adjusted individual writing this unfocused nostalgia. That’s something to be grateful for.
My last major memories of this enabled nerdery was a 2005 trip to a Scottish Nike outlet after my gran’s funeral to buy dirt-cheap Vandals. He taught me how to pronounce “apocryphal” that road-trip too. That’s why I use that word a lot. Watching ‘Predators’ today, I think he would’ve enjoyed it. There’s nothing like a ripped-out spine and death-by-machine-gun to bring back those wistful memories…