Sunday, May 13, 2007

"I Got My Sweet Chuck Taylors On"

There is a certain phenomena that I have noticed, along with what I assume is most of the American population. This would be the power and popularity of the Converse Chuck Taylor sneaker. They are everywhere in this nation, so much so that it can at times be a little bit frightening, and the strangest thing about it is I cannot decipher what is so great about them!

Chuck Taylor was a great basketball player “back in the day.” I don’t know the years he played or anything like that and I am unable to really research him or his shoes because as I write this I am not connected to the internet (I’ll probably copy and paste this to my page tomorrow, tonight being May 12th). I do know a few things, though: 1) Chuck Taylor’s shoes are considered the first basketball sneakers ever made, and 2) Converse almost certainly would not be in business at all today if it wasn’t for this extremely simplistic shoe that they engineered so long ago.

Actually, I might be all wrong. Rumor has it that Chuck Taylor was an Admiral in the Confederate Navy and he piloted The Diversity, which is an old old wooden ship that was used in the Civil War era.

Chuck’s shoes have made an enormous comeback, rather recently, as they are now considered a staple for any angst-ridden drug-addled teenager that dresses in the “emo” form and listens to Fall Out Boy and Good Charlotte constantly. Most of these adolescents and teens consider Pete Wentz to be some sort of religious deity, which is almost as shocking as it is devastating and terrifying. The Chuck Taylor sneakers are currently in a neck and neck race with tight-fitting girls jeans for the title of “Most Important Fashion Item for People Who Hate Themselves, the Government, Life in General, and People That Dress Nicely.” It’s going to be a barn burner but I have to side with the shoes, because guys wearing girl jeans is something that strikes me as aesthetically wrong and hard on the eyes.

The fact that Chucks are so popular among emo kids is something that I’ve found hard to comprehend, since most of the kids that fit into this stereotype (and I’m sorry, I don’t like to stereotype, but everyone does it) don’t participate in normal sporting activities—I don’t consider hacky sack or mosh pitting at a high school Battle of the Bands to be normal athletic conventions—and the Chuck Taylor was inherently a basketball shoe. Kids that would not hesitate to slit their physical education teacher’s throat wearing basketball shoes does not make for a normal mix. It’s a strange fashion crossover and I wish I knew why they picked this particular shoe. Why not Birkenstock clogs? Or, if a group was looking for an economically sound approach I would recommend Velcro strap shoes, which can be found at any Wal*Mart in a variety of colors for under ten dollars; they are surprisingly comfortable and the durability cannot be matched by any other shoe that comes at such an agreeable price. A basketball shoe just seems inappropriate to me, but it all comes around in the end because it seems like these kids strive to be inappropriate more than anything else in the world. They certainly don’t strive to be socially accepted, do they?

The emo kids are rapidly losing their trademark on the Chuck Taylors, I’m sure much to their chagrin. I guess nothing is sacred anymore. This fashionable item is spilling over into the mainstream and continuing to grow in popularity among a vast amount of Converse patrons. I’ve seen a lot of Hollywood celebrities rocking the Chucks with pride, and I’ve seen a number of college professors sporting them well. I was taking a final last Thursday and my professor sauntered into the room in a pair of off-white high top chucks, and looking very very hip. This man is neither emo, nor young. He’s somewhere in his seventies actually, and he told us that he was going to “run like Hell out of Erie to somewhere warm” when he retired at the end of the semester. I’ve got to suggest California; he would fit in sportingly in Hollywood, since he apparently has the fashion down to a science already. I understand that fashion is half the battle in a place like that where social stance is so extremely important.

Now I have always considered myself to be something of a less than radical nonconformist, so I would ordinarily not jump on this bandwagon. In fact, I made a solemn vow to myself that I would never own or even wear a pair of Chucks, simply because I did not want to be lumped into the emo-kid stereotype. I mean, I’ll throw on some womens jeans occasionally just to frolic in good nature around my house when no one else is home, but I would never dream of going public with it. Oops.

But oh how the mighty have fallen. As I said, nothing is sacred anymore. When I saw Ryan Reynolds and Adam Brody wearing Chuck Taylors, it was all over for me. They are man-crushes of mine (see previous entry) so I feel a need to wear what they wear and do what they do. I purchased a pair. I guess I’m terrible at being a non-conformist. I may as well start watching Oprah and playing guitar hero until I am stricken with carpal tunnel, like the rest of America.

And as far as stereotypes go, I felt that I was safe. Surely these shoes were no longer considered an emo thing, because Van Wilder is absolutely not an emo-kid! I was sorely mistaken. The day I got my chucks and waltzed into my dorm room with them on, my roommate took one look at me, which turned into a deep scowl that bordered on hatred and absolute betrayal, and said “Hey Scott, are you going emo now?”

Oh well, stupid is as stupid does, right? Actually, Forrest Gump wore Chucks too. It’s a small world. Happy summer everyone, and send your mothers my warmest regards.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

A Crazy Gambling Saturday

There are few things in life more satisfying to me than achieving victory as an underdog. It's an amazing feeling to win when you were not expected to, but you can even take it up a notch by saying that it is even more of an intense emotion when you win and people didn't want you to. Bragging rights are often hard to come by, but they are usually long-lasting and well worth whatever it took to get them.

I found myself in a situation yesterday that falls into the latter category, when my indirect achievement of victory was not wanted by the masses. This indirect victory would come via fan support, and I was supporting the boxer Floyd Mayweather who fought and beat the most beloved boxer of his generation, Oscar De La Hoya, in a split decision.

I found myself supporting Mayweather for a few reasons. I admired his confidence, which is actually more accurately put as cockyness. Normally i loathe cocky people, but he was very charismatic about it and he added a level of comedy to it that you usually don't see. In other words, he was cocky but he wasn't Terrell Owens. It was, I suppose, mainly because of his arrogance and personality coupled with the sheer love of De La Hoya by the masses that I felt like I had to support Mayweather, to sort of swim against the stream and not go with the popular opinion.

Oh, and he was also favored to win...

I had made some small-time bets with a few of my friends dealing with this bout, and there were more than a few of them willing to go with "Golden Boy" De La Hoya because of their own personal bias. There was a lot of trash talk going on dealing with the fight for a few days prior, and we were all hot on gambling since a group of us had placed some terrible bets on the Kentucky Derby earlier in the day. If there is room for personal profit, it obviously elevates the excitement of viewing any sporting event, and boxing is traditionally a very heavily-wagered on sport.

We planned to order the fight on pay-per-view, and we all pitched in money and went over to my friend's house for some good rivalry and boisterousness (I don't know if that's even a word). I knew when we left for the house that many of the occupants were very heavily against Mayweather, and these were some loud loud men. I didn't think it would be so lop-sided, though.

I took a seat next to my good buddy Spencer who had also bet on Mayweather and was a pretty big fan. We found out quickly that we were severely outnumbered and were the only kids in the entire place out of about twenty who were rooting for Mayweather.

There was a lot of screaming and select words thrown out during the fight, and at times it was hard to figure out that Mayweather was indeed getting the best of the fight because every time De La Hoya would blink an eye everyone in the room and in the arena would shout their approval.

The fight went the full twelve rounds, and Mayweather got the victory. I was sitting on the couch in the corner and Spence and I were preparing to assemble any type of makeshift weapon we could muster, fearing that we would have to fight our way to the door kicking and screaming. Fortunately for us, they forgot about the fight almost immediately and began playing card games.

I made some money from this, but that was not the sweetest thing. The looks on the faces of those whom I had been jabbering and gambling with were worth more than the ten dollar bets that I had won could have ever been. It was great fun, and long live those who are hated by the many and respected by the few. The ones with their backs to the wall suffering disapprovin
g looks are always the most dangerous, for they are the ones with nothing to lose.