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Thursday, July 1, 2010
Chuck Taylors and ME and YOU
Today's essay I wrote for the women's mega blog She Says is about Chuck Taylors sneaks... (thanks Kasey for the pics and help, and thanks to all the other BAMF panelists who helped)
Confessions of a Kept man: diary of an anarcho-punk potter and househusband, by Gary.
I am aware of the fact that this is a women's mega-blog and that I am the little brother pestering his way into the crowd. SO I try to think of topics that are of interest to women as relating to men, and that got me thinking of unisex shoes: that ICON OF COOL, Converse Chuck Taylors. Any man or woman on earth can wear them, as long as they don't mind wearing the support equivalent of 2 pieces of paper on their feet (trust me--you get older, you, your knees, your back start thinking ARCH SUPPORT, and Chuck's have none---you have to buy inserts, but who wants to listen to aging punks like me?)
OK, me and Chucks: a history. My grandfather was a tiny little Welshman, from Wales actually, who moved to Massachusetts and worked in the Converse factory there...making Chucks. You can thank him for my height, my sexy as hell curly black hair, my love of books, and a genetic pre-disposition to Chucks. My first pair was when I was a teen, I stole a pair. Well, my dad's old castoff white canvas high tops. Its like, a law, in New York: to be a real punk you have to steal your first pair of Chucks. In college there was this wicked hawt art student studying with me: Erica was COOL. The coolest of cool, and she was a white low top girl. I wanted to be a white low top girl, I mean boy. In the mid 80s I was living in New York city for a bit, and my pal Steffi picked me up one day. Steffi was a club kid, and she was playing for the other team at that point, and she, um, later sold out and married a rabbi. BUT, in 1985 she took me to Mud Club and Pyramid to dance to punk music and enjoy the filth of the lower east side and Greenwich Village. She was a black high tops kinda girl, and one afternoon we did a very New York club kid thing, going to St Mark's Place for a fresh new pair of black high tops. My wife figures into the rest of my personal Chucks story. Around 1991 she bought me that pair of white low tops, and I liked them so much I got another pair. They are both here in the closet and I still loves them so, just like my teddy bear Rumpole that I found in a snow bank years ago. Anyway, get this, those white low tops? They are SO OLD THEY SAY MADE IN USA. My wife got me another pair of Chucks in 2006. We were driving down route 13 one day in Ithaca, doing 55, and by the airport she is like "is that a black high top?" and down the road by the mall "there's another black high top!" so we pull over, grab the one and go back for the other. Black high top Chucks, MY EXACT SIZE, brand new from the box. You have to imagine God was sending them to me, (and not some angry girlfriend throwing them out the car window as Romeo tried to explain something). Those were not made in USA. They did not last long...but really, I am a white low tops kinda guy.
So, you start to see different lifestyles and attitudes with Chucks. Are you a high top type of person, more edgy? Or the more relaxed sort of low top type??? OR even brightly colored for boys or girls? Rhinestones on there, printed dragons, spots???? What do your Chucks say about YOU?
I checked in with my BAMF panel of buddies:
"Golly, you folks have been wicked funny to interview. I noticed 2 weeks ago Beckster's pic of Kasey with her black chuck low tops and argyles, then Kerry comes over to our house and she has these CUTE Chucks with little figures drawn all over them.
OK, I am doing a thing on Chucks--unisex shoes, cool shoes, do you have any, what are they, WHAT DO THEY MEAN? I grew up loving the Ramones, who were, what, black low top Chucks? I mean, that stuff influences a GENERATION. Then there is high top vs low top, decorated, black vs white.....???????????????
Thoughts if you have them please, and you WILL be quoted, and Lizzie's daughter is key here---a new punk generation!
Listen, I have zero fashion sense. ZERO. I'm not one of these people with a closet full of shoes. I have my low-top Chucks, plaid keds and a few sets of dress-up-like-a-fancy-adult shoes. I wear shoes until there are holes in them
I think Chucks are the be-all end-all of cool shoes. They can be perfectly simple, like punkers’ plain ol’ black low-tops, or as elaborate as the green sequined ones I have my eye on currently. They have a sort-of tough, insubordinate vibe when girls wear them, and I think boys/men in Chucks seem fun and playful. A guy in Chucks will take you to a playground and out for ice cream on a date, and that is a good thing. A girl in Chucks won’t twist an ankle teetering on her heels or complain that she can’t keep up. They’re intergenerational—I was chatting with one of the residents at the senior community where I work and happened to look down and notice he was wearing plain ol’ white low-tops. Gym shoes, he called them. There was a woman who volunteered at the shelter where I used to work, and was always dressed in what I call “elegant Ithaca”- comfy pants, plain top, dramatic throw wrapped around her shoulders held with an heirloom brooch … and Chucks. We had Chuck-envy for each other. She had a pair of extremely limited edition ones decorated with John Lennon’s scribbles! (Reprinted, of course, he didn’t actually draw on her sneakers.) I think that’s why I love Chucks so much and wear them with frickin’ everything I can get away with. They’re shoes that are a blank canvas. You can stay cool & aloof with a plain color, or have wild little animals on them that look like they were drawn by someone on crystal meth holding a crayon in their non-dominant hand. I have five pairs right now, all low-tops: black, red, scribbly animals, yellow with daisies & a ladybug, and a stripey pair with sort-of stick figure fishies. I loved the high-tops in high school, but now that I am a curmudgeon, I think those extra eyelets and lacing is more work than is worth it. One more thing- when I got married, our groomspeople wore kilts. My little cousin Ben was a competitive Irish step dancer at the time and wore his competition kilt to our wedding. With black Chucks, as a salute to me, he told me. After we left the reception hall and settled into the hotel bar to drink away the night, I tossed my pretty gold sandals in someone’s trunk and wore my black Chucks all night with my wedding dress. I’m kinda sorry I didn’t wear them for the whole thing. They would’ve looked coooool.
I had Chucks in junior high and high school... I thought they were cool because my oldest sister wore them. I remember the several different pairs that I had were the plain 'ol black ones... high tops. :)
When I was out in Reno in January, visiting my friend Marti Mae, I suggested we go find some white Chucks, buy a set of Sharpies and make up our own shoes. Well, not only are Chucks expensive as crap, they seem to be getting more narrow and longer... so, I wear a size 8 1/2 (ladies) and my feet look like SKIS wearing these shoes. So, I didn't get them. It was sad... BUT, I did find a pair of Vans that were HALF the price and didn't make my feet look like that crazy ass clown with the big hair from the Simpsons. We bought a HUGE set of Sharpies and I made mine giraffe pattern. I've had people ask me if I'll make them a pair, and I'd love to... but... I spent a long time coloring my shoes and I'd rather not go into the shoe-coloring business.
Yeah, Chucks are pricey. Fortunately, nobody else seems to like the funky patterned ones I like and I find 'em on clearance. Sometimes it's good to like the things no one else does.
I wore Chucks to my high school graduation. I also put kleenex in my bra like my Grandma cuz I figured there'd be crying. So I was both cool and very much like an 80 year old woman.
HA! Good start, wow! I love Beckster's drawn on Chucks. Or almost Chucks. Chucks have bizarre sizing, always have--long and narrow.
hey !lizzies daughter..THATS ME!!! i love chuck taylors ,i have a pair of my own and alot of my friends have them too. My favorite style of chucks are the classic hi tops-black canvas and white rubber ! the only way i like my chucks decorated is writing..i enjoy to write on my converse :D they are comfortable punky and over-all amazing...i enjoy chucks so much i tend to draw them and paint them ALOT!.... thats all :)
I had baby pink low tops in junior high, black high tops in high school, and have serious envy over India's current black hightops. My dad had black converse hightops, I had em, India has em. Its like a family tradition.
When I went off to school in Montreal, Doc Martens were all the rage, and I switched over to those for a really long time. This year I bought India her first pair of Converse, and Mason his first Docs.
I think its time that momma got a new pair o shoes...... but what will it be??? some punky converse high tops in classic black?? or the Kickazz purple Doc Marten boots???? Maybe both....
Purple doc martens ... *drooooool*
they are pretty saxy!!! I keep pressing my nose against the glass at the shoe store..... PRICEY!!!! hoping there is a sale
I have the same shoes as this hobo. *** (see pic!) And so do some of you!
Well, hobos are known for their chic street style. Could be worse.
CHIC STREET STYLE!!!!
Hobomian is the new bohemian.
I love it. Gonna go listen to Edie Brickell and the New Hobomians now.
AHHHHHHH!!!!!! Hobomian! lol
Wow, passions run high about one's Chucks! I had a pair of high-top raspberry ones in college, which I drew all over of course (part of the art student uniform). Unfortunately gave them away in one of my shoe-guilt closet-cleaning binges. Now I have a pair of low-tops which are black with white polka dots. Kinda match the dress.
Are we talking about Doc Martins next week? Huh huh? Or maybe you should just tackle the subject of BOOTS.
I ♥ my chucks... I miss them soooo much. Had an AWESOME green pair in college... I drew on them... they had all kinds of handmade little things woven in the shoelaces. LOW TOPS all the way baby. I don't like the ones in Target... the star on the side is weird... I am CONSTANTLY searching for a pair of green - like a light hunter or dark grass green - pair of low tops... one day I will find them!
...oh how I miss you little green chucks!
...my daughter Mary has a pair... black high tops. She lives in them!!
I know, that star IS weird.
Jeepers! I just got an email about this-- Dr. Seuss Chuck Taylors!!!!
A girl here at work has modified her low-tops with velcro. So she doesn't need laces. She just put some velcro on the tongue and under the lace holes. And now I see that they sell some without laces.
NO. That is PERVERTED. That is taking an icon of COOL and making them safe for little old ladies and kindergartners. ITS INDECENT! "
Gary Edward Rith is a househusband, full-time studio potter and sculptor and part-time instructor at the Cornell University Pot Shop. Confessions of a Kept Man appears every Monday and Thursday, and Gary's answer column "He Says: ask a guy, by Gary" appears every Wednesday. Gary blogs a whole lot of pottery and other baloney at his blog
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