Friday, February 27, 2009

Simulacra, or How Nike Spent a Year Masturbating and Gave Birth to a Golf Ball

An ode to a "thing" can be symbolic. Designers honor their muses with colors and shapes. Musicians code their love songs with pet names and maps to first dates. Most of the time though, simulacrum is cornballs deep fried in cheese. It's a Las Vegas hotel called The Venetian. It's the LonelyGirl on YouTube; it's Harajuku; it's Brian Austin Green.


The Nike Blazer High Premium

I'm convinced few will have immediately figured out all the details of this symbolic shoe, since it took me several viewings and an explanation to decipher all its bells and whistles. So permit me...

This is obviously a Nike shoe. I bought it at Proper in Long Beach, a very well edited sneaker store run by a guy named Tristan. I went into the store with Imprint-Ryan and jeffstaple , whom Tristan recognized (not surprising, as jeff designs sneakers etc.), but more impressive: Tristan recognized me from my last trip to the store with Eric Nakamura six months ago.

Tristan: Hey. You came in here a while ago with Eric Nakamura right?
Anne: Whoa. Yes I did. You have an amazing memory.

After drooling over a bunch of boat shoes, I picked up this number from a wooden spreadsheet of candy-colored sneakers. I had no idea what made a shoe "fly off the wall" to guys like Tristan and jeff so I kind of randomly picked this one up and asked:

Anne: What do you think of this shoe?
jeff: It's cool but I would never wear it.
Anne: Why?
jeff: I dunno. (He walks away and asks a clerk for his size in the sneaker equivalent of The Watchmen's Rorschach, if Rorshach were a German hooker. Truly, sneaker beauty is in the eye of the beholder.)

So I went back to re-examining the above Nike, to figure out if it had some coded message to a designer or team or Michael Jordan or whoever. Which sub-segment of the street savvy is picking up this shoe in earnest?

That's when I noticed the heel:

That's a red star hovering over what I'd approximate as Chattanooga.

Anne: jeff, is this someone's brand?
jeff: No. Or if it is I don't know it.

I flip the shoe around and notice what looks like a dark green hoodie printed on the tongue.
Anne: How about this? Is this a brand?
jeff: (Visibly annoyed) No. (He squirrels back to the wall of shoes.)

I then went to Tristan, interrupting his conversation with Ryan about selling cars (sic).

Anne: What's this stuff on the shoe mean?
Tristan: You mean why is that shoe covered in all that stuff?
Anne: Yeah.
Tristan: Nike (Urban) wanted to make a Tiger Woods shoe for winning the Masters, but they couldn't clear it with legal. The green hoodie is their version of green jacket from The Masters. The red star over Chattanooga approximates the golf standard over Augusta, which is the logo for The Masters.

(Viz: Anne's jaw dropping to the floor.)
What symbolism.
What bereft homage.
What a load of shit...

But it gets better.

Notice the swoosh. It's lined with fur.
Tiger fur.

Now look closer. The tiger fur has a print on it.
A fake wood finish.

Yes, folks. I give you:

(Viz.: Anne gives immaculate and spontaneous birth to octuplets)

Later in the day, after having thought about this shoe for the succeeding three hours, I decide I'm going to get this stupid shoe because it will make such a wonderful conversation piece. Plus, I love Tiger Woods and I love gawky puns. The shoe is practically made for me. I'm falling for this Pigmalion and it's a treacherous love.

I find out that not only is Nike's smallest Blazer High Premium a Men's 8, Proper doesn't have anything left but a Men's 10.5.

I buy it anyway.

[By the way, thanks, Tristan! I'm sure you never thought clowning a shoe to a golfer would help you sell a 10.5 hightop to a size 5-wearing-woman who will never wear it.]
But you know, the lynchpin for my buying this shoe wasn't my own mental retardation. It was what jeff pointed out after a third and final examination.
The white leather on this shoe has been dimpled to look like a golf ball.

(Viz.: Anne signs a $1million contract to do Octopod porn)


dorien said...

that you had such a conversation with Jeff Staple is one of the many reasons that you are my hero.

Anonymous said...

I still want to see you wear that thing.


Anonymous said...

OMG I'm like, so in love with you it hurts. And it's a deep, piercing pain, too... somewhat like a kidney stone.