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I want to talk about something that has been bugging me for an age, as Dumbledore might say. It’s something that I have struggled with to be very honest, and it’s also something that I don’t think I will ever get over. Shoes. Yes shoes. If we are very candid for a few brief seconds, and brief I hope they will remain, we can clearly decipher my indescribable issue with the purchase of, and consequential use of shoes. Just to give a little imagery to my issue, my room currently has 14 pairs of shoes organized neatly in one corner. Yes I wear them. And yes they are quite stylish. The point is, that’s 2 for every day of the week. Now let’s bring back the candid camera for a second and tally how many pairs I actually own. Let’s just call it a lot. If I am honest with my readers (which of course I am…), I have to admit to having a situational collection of shoes. For example, my Clarks desert boots will only be worn in dry, unsalted terrain where the environment will not damage the leather, and I live by that to this day. Don’t judge me, they were expensive and are quite stylish. If I wanted to trudge around in the sloshing pits of the Midwestern winters, I would wear any other of my countless, more adventure inclined boots (all 5 of them). The same goes for my Birkenstocks. If it’s wet, you can bet your bottom dollar they won’t be on my feet. My basketball shoes have never felt the touch of a surface apart from a waxed gym floor. My bike shoes are for biking, running shoes for running, and boat shoes for boating. Let’s not forget work boots for work (which I have to wear every day oddly enough). It’s quite simple really.

What remains to be said is why I have so many, and why do I need so many? The answer? I don’t know. Who cares. To be honest, I just bought a new pair while skyping last night (figure 1). And you know what? They also can’t be worn in the rain, and that doesn’t bother me. What business do I have walking around in the rain anyways?

figure 1

If I were to presume myself a master of self-diagnosis, which I may very well be, I would imagine my recent shoe purchasing is a result of the lack of shoe wearing options in my field of work. Maybe it’s a vice. Maybe not. After spending 14 hours in steel toed boots maybe my mind is crying out for any other type of footwear, preferably more stylish, to wear. That’s probably it. As a result, my work shoe to work ratio is quite low, somewhere in the range of 2, while my everything else to not work ratio is somewhere in the clouds at a healthy 16 or so.

Just on a side note, I hate Crocs with the fire of a thousand suns in a Turkish bathhouse. They aren’t shoes. They are dumb, look dumb, and are often worn by dumb people who can’t tie shoes, or avoid puddles. Shoes should be crafted by cobblers in a sweaty Chinese shack, not by a mold in a modern facility.

That’s all.
Ps. I would like to give a shout out to my shoe purchasing mentor. A man whose shoe purchasing is well respected, and whom I try to model my shoe purchasing after (I run most my selections through him before buying). The man who came out on top with only a few scratches from the great boot shortage of the 90’s, the great shoe (mostly boot) purchaser himself, Mr. John Baldwin.

-mjl

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Often times I find myself pondering things. Now there really is no pattern to what I ponder, or for how long, but the fact is that I ponder at times. One specific occasion was last June. I found myself neck deep in a discussion of fine art. Suffice to say, I know nothing of any importance about anything regarding fine art, but for the sake of a conversation that even mildly crossed into the realm of intellectuality, I played along. My counterpart, being an art education major, was fairly docile in his discourse about his personal favorites, which in turn led me to believe he wasn’t buying any of the crap I was selling. Long story short, this got me thinking. Lo and behold, 7 months later I found myself visiting the Art Institute in Chicago, an institution whose doorway I had not darkened for the better part of 7 years.

This is my experience..

“candy in corner”

“Beautifully done, awe inspiring, and fulfilling. Everything a man could want from art, a true look into the weakness and struggle of man.” – me

My first impression, “what the hell is that?” Yes, it is indeed a pile of candy in a corner, and yes one can delve into the pile and partake of the art. The display itself is around 180 lbs of individually wrapped hard candies. Here’s a tidbit on the artists idea –

‎”Felix Gonzalez-Torres produced work of uncompromising beauty and simplicity, transforming the everyday into profound meditations on love and loss. “Untitled” (Portrait of Ross in L.A.) is an allegorical representation of the artist’s partner, Ross Laycock, who died of an AIDS-related illness in 1991. The installation is comprised of 175 pounds of candy, corresponding to Ross’s ideal body weight. Viewers are encouraged to take a piece of candy, and the diminishing amount parallels Ross’s weight loss and suffering prior to his death. Gonzalez-Torres stipulated that the pile should be continuously replenished, thus metaphorically granting perpetual life.”

Heartwarming, I know. I did feel significant remorse after spending around 15 minutes insulting the display, but AIDs or not, there is no excuse for making every piece pineapple flavored.

“Stick in corner”

I’m sorry, but I have no words for this.

“box on sticks with wheel”

I still don’t really recall what the explanation was for this piece, but it is safe to say, a bird could live quite comfortably in that box. It’s painfully obvious to me that both my brother and friend Sam did on the other hand, understand the point, or so their expressions would suggest.

“pile of gray paper on floor”

I don’t have a photo of this piece (a grave mistake), but this was truly my favorite piece of art from that day. What the display consisted of was a quite superfluous stack of large gray rectangles of paper. That’s all. Stacked about 2 feet up from the floor, they just sat there. That wasn’t enough for me though. No sir. Upon further investigation I found the artist had intended for the viewer (momentary artist) to become part of the display by taking a piece of paper and keeping it. Maybe they could draw on it, use it as a placemat, fold it into a paper airplane, burn it, cut people with it, wrap a sandwich, the possibilities abound (interesting concept actually). Mind = blown. What did we choose to do with the paper you ask?

I give you “Iraq War”

We made hats, and beautiful art to boot.

-mjl