Thursday, August 21, 2014

tongues on the line

This is about as non-newsworthy as a story can get.

I have a photograph -- and I have no facts to go with it.  Worse, I have a running stream of rumors, none of which can be confirmed.

Wherever I have traveled in the world during the past few years, if there are overhead utility wires, a pair of shoes, usually expensive running shoes tied together, will be draped over the wire.  It does not matter if I am in a city or in the country, there will be at least one pair of flung shoes suspended in the air -- in the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Europe.

My prime theory was the shoes were the proud trophy of some bully who, after divesting a bespectacled schoolmate of the mark's prized shoes, managed to get them out of the permanent reach of their former owner.  Rather like the government's shakedown for taxes.

And I guess I am not alone in supporting that theory.  But there are a lot more.  The shoes appear to have dozens of potential meanings.  Crack house or heroin dealer nearby.  Boundaries for gangs.  School children starting their summers.  Almost any form of celebration.

Am I the only person who finds all of those explanations just a bit odd?  What modern civilization could be that uncouth?  Of course, we live in an era where grown women can whoop at a chamber music concert with as much gusto as if they had just consumed their seventh beer at the rodeo.

I shot the photograph about four blocks from my house.  When I asked the clerk at the grocery store on that corner why all of the shoes were in that particular spot, he responded: "I don't know." 

My guess is that he did know.  I was simply not an interesting enough person with whom he wanted to discuss the topic.  I get that now and then.

But I think I know where we can get an answer.  And from reliable sources.

Over the years, I have learned that my readers are full of worthwhile information just waiting to be shared.  And I suspect at least one of you can write The Truth of the Shoes.

It is a fitting topic.


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