Writing stuff on a plane is hard. Altitude, overexposure to family-friendly entertainment and watered-down coffee kill my work rate. The knowledge that I’m whizzing way above the ground in a vast lump of metal and that homeland security are waiting, ready to quiz me as if I’m two questions away from admitting to atrocities doesn’t help either. As a result, I can’t churn out the usual line after line of pop-cultural drivel. But I can still talk shit on a BlackBerry when it’s in flight safe mode.
Every day I’m blessed/obliged/cursed to be writing about sports footwear. Blessed because I’ve had an interest in the subject since I was 5 or 6 years of age. Obliged because that’s my day job and cursed because while I love my fellow fanboys and girls (in all honesty, it tends to veer towards the former), if you work with this stuff, you’re liable to get a little jaded with it. Jaded by solemn imbeciles blankly YouTube broadcasting a description of a fucking shoe to me, telling me what colour the upper is and talking about the accents and outsole and other things that I can see in a single JPEG. No cultural context. No history. Just a fucking piece of pleather in their hand and a serious face. Fuck that. Sneaker internet celebrities freak me out.
I don’t care for campaigns trying to sell me the notion of dullards keeping their shoes boxed and neatly stacked, trying to sell tat to a diminishing notion of the “sneakerhead.” Corny. Fuck your initiative. I don’t think the “sneakerhead” (sorry, I coughed up a little blood there) died out and the passion remains – people just wear what they buy nowadays. It’s better that way. I don’t have to listen to people deifying suede and nylon false prophets — non-Air runners from 1990 getting love for the sole reason that they’re “deadstock.” Sneakers went fully blown. My brother knows what a Dunk is. Jordans become trending topics. I like that.
Still, I love to chat with friends and associates who can talk for hours with passion regarding the losses, wins and reference points that makes sports footwear resonate with them. Those who pursue the esoteric, celebrate the noble failures and overthink this stuff are my kind of people. Age, experience and the amount of pairs amassed aren’t so relevant. I don’t care if your shoes match your hat and t-shirt either. It usually makes you look like a kindly simpleton, albeit in pristine footwear.
In fact, it’s all just fun to me. Easy come, easy go. I assume the stern faces and attitude is borne of insecurity. With a birthday looming, I know I’m too damn old to be working in this part of the industry.
Someone should introduce an exam for the douches who want to be authorities and (sorry, I just coughed up another globule), “influencers.” Maybe something a little like the snippet above that’s a real English test entry from 1996. An exam question based on buying sneakers, with an emphasis on price and build quality. Why didn’t they have questions like that when I was at school?