Tuesday, January 17, 2006

My Life in Sneakers: 1979-1999

My first recollections of being steered by a brand. The only magazines I read in high school were Mad, Playboy, and Skateboarder. Mad didn't have any advertising; I couldn't afford anything Playboy advertised, and who cared anyway; I only looked at the girls. All the good stuff was in Skateboarder.
I bought Sims Snake wheels strictly because of the logo (a snake in the shape of an 'S' - very amateur)

... and because they were green. I put them on Independent trucks because of the Iron Cross logo (long before West Coast Choppers). I got Vans, Chuck's, even Nike hi-top basketball shoes, if that's what the dude in the ad wore. They didn’t make me a better skater, but I looked like a better skater.

When I first started running, I was in art school. I didn't have a proper pair of running shoes, so I ran in what I had ... White Chuck Hi-Tops. Three or so miles a day, on the sidewalk, eventually caused the right heel to separate. The brown rubber sole and a couple layers of padding came cleanly away from the rubber strip that encircled the bottom of the shoe. The pounding also managed to cause a stress fracture in my left leg ... very near a weak area in my tibia (?) where I had broken my ankle 4 years earlier.

I gave up running for the winter and resumed that spring with "proper" running shoes. I bought them at the local sporting goods store. White lo-budget adidas. I had been wearing adidas soccer cleats for years. Soccer was a thing of the past now, but I wanted to carry "my brand" with me into my next phase of athletic endeavor.

I returned to running with a new enthusiasm. I bought the magazines. I realized that my beginners shoes were not in any of the ads. Let me rephrase that ... they weren't in any GOOD ads. The ads they had for my adidas sucked!!! I could have doen better in school. I DID do better in school. In my mind, to justify myself as a runner, I had to get a pair of shoes that someone thought were good enough to do good advertising for.

I then turned to mail order for my new running shoes. Granted the ad was still cheesy, but I was saving $5. The Etonics lasted me a year, they were good and got me across the finish line in my first few races.


What more do you need to say??? Apple. LA Olympics. Nike.

Nike finally came through with the edgy, disrespectful ads that harkened back to my rebellious skateboarder roots. “Revolution” with John McEnroe. “Just Do It.” Bo Jackson. I was hooked. I was a Nike man.

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