Saturdate & Flying Kicks

September 30, 2013

I don't think I'll ever tire of photographs of nice shoes. The pair above are from an annual Vans sample sale to replace some of Patricio's old pairs that were being held together with shoe goo (the curse of having a skateboarding husband). The pair of knock-off chucks (given to him by a brother) he was wearing to the sale finally gave up the ghost by splitting in two at the heel. Perfect timing.

This is Patricio's third pair of canvas Rata Vulc's from their Surf Collection, and I'm just in love with this rich autumn-appropriate colour (Biking Red/Port Royal).

We ate at one of our new favourites: Fresh. We were unadventurous and ordered our same meals as last time, knowing what we loved. It was crowded, but we managed to steal a table that had just been cleared outside, and enjoyed the shining sun on another beautiful autumn day.

Carrying around a busted pair of shoes begged the question: Should we just toss them in a garbage can, or throw them over a telephone wire? A comment that a friend made on the subject caused me to do a little personal research.

I quickly became immersed in a series of interesting articles on the meaning and symbolism of "shoefiti" (as it was termed by Ed Kohler) - which range from gang territory to memorial markers; a rite of passage to locations where illegal drugs are sold; a form of a meme; a proof of existence; or even as an alternative to graffiti.

I found beautiful photographs of shoes on wires. There is even a short documentary called The Mystery of Flying Kicks on the subject, which I recommend watching. I just found it difficult to find anyone of actual authority confirming or denying that it is an illegal act (I'm sure that if you were to toss your shoes over a telephone wire in front a police officer, he might not be happy about it).

"Shoefiti" is frowned upon by many as they see it either as an eyesore, a waste of tax payers dollars to be removed, or are fearful it may interfere with electrical wires. In Toronto, and other major cities, many pairs have remained on the same wires indefinitely until their shoelaces rotted away, neither causing harm or wasted dollars to anyone. It could be considered a form of litter, as the shoes eventually end up back on the ground.

In many articles that I read Toronto Police Detectives flippantly dismissed the gang-related connotations towards the shoes without a word on public vandalism. Meanwhile in LA, a special force has been vigilantly removing shoes due to a strong belief in the illegal drug or gang implications. In Minneapolis, a self-appointed patrol take it upon themselves to remove shoes, believing it is a sign of urban decay and lawlessness. Some use it a measure of time, a memory of a significant event, a reminder.

"Just the fact that you leave writing on a wall, or that you leave a shoe somewhere: You have proven to yourself that you exist."

I love the thoughts of Marcel Danesi, a Professor of Semiotics and Linguistic Anthropology at The University of Toronto, in Flying Kicks:
"Why [do] we search for meaning and why must we leave our mark? It is connected to memory - a kind of communal long-lasting memory. It's as if we live on through memory, and if you think in a certain sense - it's absolutely true. Just the fact that you leave writing on a wall, or that you leave a shoe somewhere: You have proven to yourself that you exist. What an interesting feature of humanity, even though it's kind of an illusion, isn't it? Unless you're a great artist that leaves your name in your works, we do disappear from communal memory. What a tragedy our condition is, isn't it?"
I am fascinated that what I had considered simply a whimsical, harmless act of ridding oneself of an old pair of footwear is a source of such controversy and mystery. To me, this is art - something that opens a discussion and can be interpreted in a multitude of ways, globally, negatively or positively.

If you ever see a pair of sneakers hanging in an alley off Spadina and Richmond, just know that they were hung there out of love.

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