Thursday, September 30, 2004

fly kicks at Howard

This is from The Hilltop, the student newspaper at Howard University. it's interesting how many architecture students are into the shoe game. Also, I'm going to have to check out Prince Georges Plaza in Hyattsville, Maryland next time I'm in DC. Sounds like they have some fly kicks over there.

From head to toe, Howard University students are arguably the most stylish scholars. It is not difficult to find a trendy shirt or designer jeans, but the search for special sneakers that will kick off the outfit can be tricky. Many search for stores and websites, pursuing the hottest sneakers out, or in some cases, not available to many.

Sophomore advertising major Christopher Hines has plenty of resources that help satisfy his shoe appetite. Hines, who is all about distinctiveness and creativity, knows of many websites that provide hard-to-find sneakers. " has a lot of the super collectable, super expensive items, such as first edition Nike Air Jordans," Hines said. " is also another good website for sneaker seekers. It allows you to buy, trade, and sell shoes to and from others."

In addition Hines, a California native, said that Fred Segal Feet in Los Angeles, Calif. is a hot spot for hidden sneakers.

Hines also spoke of how some of the limited edition sneakers are produced, saying that many shoe companies are partnering up with entertainers and asking them to co-design their shoes, creating an "artist series." Brands like Nike, Reebok and New Balance take those special designs and make a small quantity for shoe fans around the world.

An example of a hot pair of sneakers currently in rotation is the Lucky Dunks made by Nike. Only 777 pairs were released this summer worldwide and they cost $350 - $400. The gold high-top sneakers are decorated with a green number seven in addition to the standard Nike swoosh.

Junior architecture major James Harmon is more tight-lipped with where he gets his sneakers from, and declined to give the name of any specific store. His sneaker mania began when he worked at Footlocker, where he would regularly pick out a pair or two of special edition sneakers for himself. "Now, it's special when you can get shoes that no one else can get," Harmon said. "I'm trying to get what you don't have."

The Maryland native continued saying that it is a very big deal to have shoes that no one else has. "When you walk around campus, you are going to see another person with a regular pair of Jordans on, but if you have a pair of Nike Dunks that were limited to a 1000 people in the world, the field narrows so much more."

Sophomore architecture major Mike Smith has over 100 sneakers that he can wear at any time. He also turned down the opportunity to tell his classmates where he gets his exclusive shoes. The Maryland native only revealed that there are some places in Virginia and Ocean City, Md. where he visits frequently to buy shoes that are new and unique.

For Smith, the big money spent on exclusive sneakers is worth it. "Some old Air Jordans or an exclusive pair of dunks can cost up to $800. You might have to pay a couple of extra bucks, but it's worth it when you have a shoe that no one else has," he said.

Hines added that it is not so important to have exclusive sneakers, as much it is to have a pair that is a "head turner." "That is what all of us in this sneaker culture we're in want."

New York, regarded as a fashion capital, provides an endless supply of shoe stores. Niketown, located in Manhattan, has an infinite of Nike shoes in various color schemes. In Brooklyn, Tom, Dick, & Harry's supplies exclusive sneakers. In Queens, Jamaica Avenue has many stores on its street with exceptional shoes schemes.

Locally, shoes can be found at Shoe City and Downtown Locker Room, which are located in Prince George's Plaza (PG Plaza), a stop on the Metro's green line.

color me nike

I’ve been playing around with NikeID as of late. After years of pussy-footing around, I actually registered and came up with a few colorways of my own, which I was able to save. The ones I’ve saved so far are all Shox NZ models (one of my favorites), but they are pretty cool, if I may say so myself.

My first is called “Orange Crush” after the R.E.M. song and the soft drink. It’s primarily black with orange and yellow accents and a slight hint of silver. I also did colorways to match the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers. They have a white base, gold accents and a background of dark green or black, respectively. I don’t know what I’ll come up with next, but I’m inspired thus far.

“vicks” burg: new nike shoes honor virginia tech

Nike has announced special limited edition versions of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick’s signature cross training shoe, the Air Zoom Vick. Fans that go to can get one of 4 special colorways, limited to 1,000 pairs each. Among the colorways is special Blacksburg palette, in honor of Vick’s (and my) alma matter, Virginia Tech and also oane in honor of the Pittsburgh Steelers, his (and my) favorite NFL team. I don’t know if I’ll buy it, but it’s a bonanza for sneakerheads and Hokie fans everywhere.

talk about retro: senators baseball returning to dc

It seems like everything old in Washington, DC is new again. Far freakier than Marion Barry’s likely return to city government and Georgetown’s sudden retail resemblance to downtown Manhattan is the return of the Washington Senators.

For those unfamiliar with baseball, Washington had a team called the Senators from 1921 to 1960, and then from 1961 to 1971. In both cases the Senators moved due to low ticket sales in DC and better opportunities elsewhere, creating what are now the Minnesota Twins and the Texas Rangers. Today’s announcement means that the financially struggling Montréal Expos will leave Quebec for a new stadium in the southeast section of Washington along the Anacostia River, with a brief stop in historic RFK Stadium as the new venue is being built.
As I am still new to baseball, this gives me a little joy because I finally have a National League team to root for to go along with my American League Baltimore Orioles. They’re so close geographically; there is a possibility of a “Beltway Series” if both of them make it to the World Series. Plus the Senators are an important part of Major League Baseball, much as the Cleveland Browns are for the NFL. I’m getting my Senators hat as soon as I can, and looking forward to the games when they start next year

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

music for films

If you like the non-descript, funky background music of '70s cinema and TV, you should check out Cinemaphonic: Electro Soul, an album of what is called "library music" compiled by David Hollander, who, strangely enough, played Little Earl in the waning days of ABC's '70s sitcom "What's Happening!"

Much of this music formed the backdrop to the TV programs we all watched in our formative years, but was never released to the public because no one really thought much about it, much less sought it out. In addition, much of it was done by otherwise "serious" musicians to pay the bills and not as artistic expression.

Enter Hollander, featured in the latest edition of ReadyMade magazine, who became fascinated by the genre and searched out obscure albums all over the world to come up with Electro Soul and several other albums un the Cinemaphonic banner. He's far from the only fan. Rappers like Jay-Z sample music from this genre often, and the Beastie Boys strived to recreate some of it on recent albums.

It's not art, but Electro Soul is a wild ride through music that many of us know and sometimes love.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

sole devotion

I found this article in the San Diego Union Tribune and thought it was interesting...

Sneakerheads show sole devotion to footwear
By Michael Kahn REUTERS

SAN FRANCISCO – Alex Wang's lifelong love affair with sneakers has moved beyond a relatively simple shoe fetish to full-blown obsession.

The 27-year-old former computer programmer is part of a growing subculture of devotees known as sneakerheads, who spend all night in line eagerly awaiting the release of a new shoe and devote staggering amounts of time and money to collecting footwear.

But it is an investment that can prove lucrative to collectors fortunate enough to get their hands on shoes like a limited edition version of the Nike Dunk that retailed for $120 and, a week later, sold on the Internet for about $1,500.

"I wear shoes out that most people don't have," Wang said. "You have what other people want. That is part of what drives sneakerheads."

The sneaker subculture has also attracted the attention of big companies like Nike Inc., which see the shoe-collecting community as a way to gauge the latest fashions and boost their brands among young trend-setters.

Known among sneakerheads as "Retrokid," Wang caught the shoe bug in high school. Since then he has accumulated more than 600 pairs of sneakers he keeps in storage lockers, closets and at the houses of his parents and friends.

Wang has also appeared on television, works for a sneaker magazine and operates the sneaker-centered Web site at his own expense.

His life is all about shoes, all the time.

"Sneakerheads are a different breed," said Wang, who insures his collection for an amount he declined to disclose. "Any sane person only needs two pairs of shoes at a time, but we have 10 or more or even hundreds."

Collectibles easily run into the hundreds of dollars with vintage models, and limited-edition sneakers or anything related to basketball legend Michael Jordan are typically worth more.

An original black-and-gold Air Jordan 1, for example, is estimated to have cost a Japanese collector $23,000, and Wang said he has paid as much as $875 for a pair of sneakers.

But with so much money at stake, some sneakerheads refuse to wear their collections and only grudgingly divulge details about what they have hidden away in their closets.

"Your never keep them in one place," said one sneakerhead at Huf, a San Francisco shoe boutique. "You need to keep them in a safe place – like a bank vault."

Sneakerheads say their hobby is no different than collecting stamps or baseball cards. And much like a rare coin, a hard-to-find pair of vintage sneakers in good condition can prove to be a better investment than a blue-chip stock, said Steve Mullholand, 35, who runs Sole Collector magazine.

He added that Nike, the world's largest athletic shoe company, produces the most collectible sneakers due in large part to the enduring popularity of the Air Jordan and Air Force 1 lines.

"The turnover is so fast on some shoes," said Mullholand, who also operates, ( which sells rare and hard-to-find sneakers. "You are better off going to Footlocker and buying the latest Jordan retro and sitting on it than going to Charles Schwab and buying stocks."

As an example, he cited the limited edition Nike Dunk release in Paris in 2003 when the shoe retailed for about $120 and was selling for about $1,500 on the Internet a week later.

He also attributes the growing ranks of sneakerheads to popular NBA stars like Minnesota Timberwolves Kevin Garnett as well as hip-hop musicians like 50 Cent, who has his own Reebok line of shoes.

"Some of these kids will buy three or four of these really hot shoes, make the money and pay for the other ones," Mullholand said. "It is insane."

The Internet, which allows collectors to buy, sell, trade and talk about shoes, has also played a pivotal role in creating a worldwide marketplace and online hang-out for sneakerheads.

"Ebay is the Kelly Blue Book of shoes," said a sneakerhead in a shoe boutique, referring to the popular online marketplace. "It is like the stock market somewhat."

Nike spokesperson Joani Komlos said the company was well aware of sneakerheads and "pretty tied" to the community.

Keith Hufnagel, a professional skateboarder who owns Huf boutique, agreed that small stores like his are important for big shoe companies and enable them to create a bigger buzz for their products.

"They are catering to this business because it makes their brands cool," Hufnagel said. "Having people line up to buy their shoes helps their image."

Monday, September 27, 2004

what's hot for fall 1979, er, 2004

Tonight I was looking at's fall fashion forecast. Surprise, surprise, vintage-styled clothing is still king. I'm not opposed to vintage, really. I mean, how many '90s style "fashion basics" can the world take? Plus, oversized clothes had become very stale and ugly before they went out of style. When 14 year old boys were wearing t-shirts and jeans that looked like a mini-dress over kulaks, things were definately over.

But the bad part about this Carter administration vintage-revival period is that everything is two sizes smaller than it used to be, instead of true to size. That really hurts big-boned, broad shouldered guys like myself who can barely fit into XXL styles at Saks and Neiman's sportswear departments and especially at Abercrombie & Fitch, that is, assuming XXL even exists in certain clothing styles. Keep in mind that I've been the same size for years and in the styles of the late '90s, I was barely an XL. And I'm not even close to being fat, either. I'm tall and v-shaped, almost model-like if you don't count the face and feet :)

Small-boned, narrow-shouldered people can buy clothes anywhere they want to and can size down if they need to. I need all the room I can get, but I still want to look like I'm wearing something other than a tent. I have a closet full of fashionable clothes, and I've adapted to the new styles some, but still, something's gotta give.

Maybe that's why I buy so many shoes. There is only so much shrinking a designer can do to shoes before someone starts complaining. Witness the endless deluge of wide shoes coming onto the market. Doesn't help me because I'm a narrow, but I digress.

Listen up, fashion world! If you want my money, it's gotta fit!!!

Now, for this fall's fashion trends....

argyle sweater (V-neck, crewneck and even a sweater vest)
funky button-down shirt: stripes, checks, houndstooth, etc.
tweed (herringbone, twill or checks), velour or corduroy blazer
vintage-looking jeans
patterned tie (paisley, herringbone, twill, or checks)
gray flannel suit
layering: don't limit yourself to one pattern or color
colors: brown, blue (from light blue to indigo), orange, purple (mauve and plum), yellow, green, gray, and red

I hope you found that as helpful as I found it catharthic

Friday, September 24, 2004

what goes around...

This was positively odd.

Ever the resourceful dude, Tim Anson found this graphic at:
that really hit home connectiong the outcome of the 2000 presidential election and the sudden rash of hurricanes that have hit Florida. I won't explain it; I'll let you see for yourself. Though it's partisan speculation, it does make you think.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

the sneaker-shout out combo

The Shout Out
My new friend Tim mentioned me on his blog! It's very flattering, not to mention it might get more people to read this nonsense I call my inner thoughts :) I should reccomend his blog again to any of you who haven't checked it out. His reads a little more like a journal than mine, but if you like my thoughts, you'll love his.

It's A Custom Job, Part 2.5
for part one click here, por part two click here
Tim and I have been talking about customizing some kicks for a while. The other day I went to Raleigh and saw white/white Nike Air Force One lows and Nike Dunk lows at Foot Locker and Champs at Crabtree Valley Mall. They have become scarce as of late after being everywhere when that Nelly song came out. (You know the one: "Giiive mee twoo purr, I need twoo purr!") Unfortuantely, I was cash poor and had to pass them up. and Tim was too far away (in Alabama) to get some either. so I'll go back, with some money, soon.

A kind Asian gentleman at Hakky Instant Shoe Repair in the mall offered to customize a pair of sneaks professionally starting at $25.00 with a two-day turn around. That's not bad, considering how much supplies cost, but still kind of rough. Still Raliegh is three hours away from here by car, and driving there twice wouldn't be cost effective. If I get them done professionally, it'll be closer to home, and it probably would be cheaper here. But I still want to paint them myself.

One thing the guy at Hakky had was shoe spray paint in a variety of colors. If I was careful and taped off all the stuff I didn't want painted, that might work.

Tonight, I stopped by Michaels to see if they had the gourd paint the Sole Collector forum suggested. No dice. They had acrylics, but not much else.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

dispatches from piedmont mall

This post has a guest contributor, my best friend Kevin. You’ll remember him from the New York post; he went with me there. I had some stuff to do on Saturday, the day we usually hang out, so he went to Piedmont Mall in Danville and checked out the new Hibbett Sports, located near Belk on the lower level. He reports:

Hibbett has the Jordan Retro 4's in the White/Green color combination. You cannot find those ANYWHERE anymore, yet they have three or four of those shoes displayed on the wall. Also, they have the Shox NZ in solid black with red shox on the bottom. I had never seen those shoes before and I wasn't sure in they were an older shoe (like the Retro 4's) or something new.

I’ll have to check out the new store and cop a pair or two.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Ivan visits TimCity (and my city)

This week TimCity was in the eye of the storm. Hurricane Ivan ravaged the Florida panhandle, and made its way through Alabama and Mississippi on its way north and east. In Virginia, we've had some heavy rains, high winds and at least a couple of tornadoes in the Roanoke area. It's been one scary storm, but Tim tells it like it was closer to the area of impact from his post in Birmingham. Check out his blog.

Fot the AP perspective read below:

Ivan Remnants Wreak Havoc Across Southeast

CASHIERS, N.C. (AP) - The remnants of Hurricane Ivan left behind a violent mark on the Southeast, killing several people, washing away scores of roads, leaving thousands without electricity and sending search teams to scour damaged areas for stranded residents.

Utility companies said more than 172,000 electricity customers in North Carolina, 17,300 in West Virginia and 92,000 in western Pennsylvania were without power late Friday.

Winds reached 60 mph and 3 to 12 inches of rain fell in North Carolina's mountainous western tip, which was still sodden from Frances' floods last week. The storm left a trail of disaster in 16 counties.

The storm pushed into West Virginia late Friday, where more than 3,000 people were evacuated as flooding, mudslides and several tornadoes hit.

Tornadoes in Berkeley County collapsed structures and tossed several tractor-trailers on their sides on Interstate 81, causing at least six injuries, emergency officials said. Emergency crews used helicopters, boats and four-wheel-drive vehicles to rescue residents trapped in buildings and vehicles.

Across the state, 45 roads were closed by flooding, officials said.

A flood watch for most of West Virginia was to remain in effect until 8 p.m. Saturday and Gov. Bob Wise declared a state of emergency. The American Red Cross set up shelters in 14 counties and the Salvation Army was preparing to provide food and other aid.

In the Piedmont area of North Carolina, Ivan spawned a tornado that hop-scotched northward, cutting a path through western Guilford and Rockingham counties. Five homes were destroyed, and 54 others were damaged, most of them in Rockingham. No one was seriously injured, authorities said.

Rain and high wind beat down on the Triangle area in central North Carolina which includes Raleigh, where siding and insulation was ripped from the buildings and small planes overturned at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

Ivan was downgraded to a tropical depression by the time it reached North Carolina late Thursday, as was Hurricane Frances when it arrived Sept. 7. North Carolinians had little time to recover between the storms.

Eight deaths blamed on remnants of the storm in North Carolina were in the southwestern part of the state. In all, Ivan was blamed for 70 deaths in the Caribbean and at least 40 in the United States, 16 of them in Florida. Most people died when Ivan was still a hurricane.

Four people were killed Friday in Macon County, in the southwest corner of the state, said Rob Brisley with the state Office of Emergency Management. A toddler, an unborn child and two adults died when a wall of water smashed a community of 30 homes to bits.

"There was no warning,'' said Tim Shirley, whose mother-in law was killed and father-in-law was missing. ``The kids were watching TV, and then the power cut out, and it was just like, boom, life changes.''

Floodwater swept away two occupants of a truck as volunteer firefighters tried to rescue them early Friday in Buncombe County. A third man was saved.

Doris Baxter, 69, of Canton, apparently drowned in her car at the edge of a tomato field near the Pigeon River, said Haywood County Sheriff Tom Alexander.

A man was killed in Henderson County when a tree fell onto a house, said First Sgt. Everett Clendenin of the State Emergency Response Team.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation said nearly 200 primary and secondary roads were impassable Friday in western counties.

Interstate 40 was closed from Exit 451, just inside Tennessee, to Exit 20 in North Carolina, on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Floodwaters began receding late Friday and flood watches were lifted, the weather service said.

``All the major rivers and streams are receding as well as can be expected,'' Brisley said. ``There is not a concern tonight about significant rainfall in this region.''

Ken Shafer of Laurel Park in Henderson County said he clocked winds of more than 61 mph and recorded 9.14 inches of rain at his house, with rain cascading down at a rate of almost 9 inches per hour during one downpour.

``It's messed up here, worse probably than any place in the county,'' he said. ``I bet we have 2,000 trees down.

Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., said she will tour storm-damaged areas in Buncombe and Henderson counties Saturday.

In Virginia, tornados spawned across the state, toppling trees, damaging buildings and prompting the governor to declare a state of emergency Friday. In Henry County, a tornado tore the roof off a factory, flipped two tractor-trailer rigs off a four-lane highway, damaged homes and ripped up or snapped thousands of trees, Sheriff Frank Cassell said.

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell declared a disaster emergency late Friday in four western Pennsylvania counties as record rainfall prompted widespread evacuations, shut down major roads, and trapped people in homes, businesses and on bridges.

comic reviews at Chipped Ham Productions

If you like comics, you should check out the latest reviews at Chipped Ham Productions. Evan's a comic book fanatic and his reviews are always unbiased and first-rate. On Friday, he posted reviews of Angel: Strange Bedfellows, Batman: Death And The Maidens, and Superman: The Man Of Steel Vol. 3.

Friday, September 17, 2004

...but bloggers live forever

I found this incredibly interesting. I got this from so long ago I can't remember when. I was going to send it out on my daily emails to my friends, but never got around to it. But it's not like lottery numbers or anything, so it's still fresh. Read on.
Poets die young. That's the word from a California study that surveyed death rates among novelists, playwrights, poets, and nonfiction writers in the United States, China, Turkey, and Eastern Europe and concluded that poets definitely died at a younger age than other types of writers, reports Reuters.

Why? Lead study author James Kaufman of the Learning Research Institute at California State University at San Bernardino says it could be because poets are tortured and prone to self-destruction. Or, it could be that many poets become famous at a young age, so their early deaths are noticed. "Among American, Chinese, and Turkish writers, poets died significantly younger than nonfiction writers," Kaufman wrote in the report published in the Journal of Death Studies. "Among the entire sample, poets died younger than both fiction writers and nonfiction writers."

The average lifespan for poets was 62 years, compared with 63 for playwrights, 66 for novelists, and 68 for nonfiction writers. Kaufman told Reuters that female poets were more likely than other types of writers to suffer from mental illness and be hospitalized, commit suicide, or attempt suicide. "I've dubbed this the 'Sylvia Plath Effect," he said. (Plath was a poet and novelist who committed suicide in 1963 at age 30.)

Thursday, September 16, 2004

this is, like, totally a list of mondo ’80s songs here

At work today, I didn’t bring any CDs with me and Yahoo!LaunchCast was on the fritz, so I turned on the local “crap rock” adult-contemporary station, Q99. Q99 used to be a really good rock-top 40 station back in the ‘70s, but became Michael Bolton-land somewhere in the ‘90s and never recovered. Still, it’s tolerable and it picks up really well at work so I turned it on.

The played that John Waite song “Missing You” about 3 this afternoon and almost instantly I remembered being at the Apollo II Tanning Salon & Arcade in Rocky Mount, Virginia, playing Ms. Pac-Man with Allen and my dad, circa 1984. It weas a great memory but I also started thinking about (1) how dated that song is now and also (2) what other songs from that era fit into a similar vein: being so cool and state-of-the-industry back then that they are instantly identifiable with a time period, in this case the mid ‘80s and sound more than a little silly now.

On the way home, listening to more Q99 in the car, I compiled my list. I still didn’t think about posting it seriously until I read Tim’s post about CDs in his collection that still stand the test of time. I didn’t want to imitate him because he’s put a hell of lot more thought into his list than my subjective, mocking condemnation of the same music I used to eat up as a kid, but here goes. These aren’t in any order, BTW:

“Missing You” by John Waite
“What’s Love Got To Do With It” by Tina Turner
“Jump” by Van Halen
“If Anyone Falls” by Stevie Nicks
“I Heard A Rumour” by Bananarama
“Broken Wings” by Mr. Mister
“Freak-A-Zoid” by Midnight Star
“I’ll Tumble For Ya” by Culture Club

If you are a fan of any or all of these songs, as I was at one point or another during the ‘80s, please do not take this as an offense. It’s done out of both love of the music and recognition that styles change and music tastes mature (thank God). If any of you out there in Steve-land have any additions, drop me a comment and the list will grow.

I only have a couple of rules:

1. Dated, silly music from any genre or time period is permissible, within limits. For example; disco is pretty dumb sometimes, but you shouldn’t submit all disco songs because a lot of them are still pretty cool. Even All-Music Guide thinks so.

2. Original artists only. No remakes. They always suck. It’s too easy.

3. Nothing with the following people: Michael Bolton, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Elton John, or other laughable but legendary pop artists like that. Again, too easy. Plus, there are a lot of fanatics out there who will send me nasty, nasty emails for even thinking Cher’s music was (is) silly. We’ll steer clear of those land mines.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

totally rad sneaker memories

Speaking of the 80’s makes me think of, what else, the shoes…

My friend Todd Martin and I were talking tonight about, what else, sneakers. Actually, we don’t talk about them that much at all, but he’s a big Nike fan, and occasionally it comes up. We were recalling a story our friend Derek used to tell about buying Jordache sneakers that looked like Air Jordans back in the day. People actually thought they were Jordans, too. I’d have to see them, because even as a kid I could spot budget joints, but it’s a great story, nonetheless.

We also brought up KangaROOS, which were the sneakers in the ‘80s that had little pockets on the sides that you could keep stuff in. Along with Nike Air Force Ones, the ROOS came back as retro too, though less successfully. You can get them at Urban Outfitters these days if you’re jonesin’ for a pair.

I recalled the fake adidas Country and Asics Tiger models that Sears sold under the Winner banner. Allen and I had a pile of these as kids. I also brought up Pony. They’ve been revived and they are still tragic. Todd brought up Jox from Thom McAn and Trax from either Kmart or JCPenney. It was a cool conversation on not so cool shoes from back in the day.

I can still remember just about every sneaker I ever bought from the fake adidas spezials my dad bought Allen and I from Eagles five-and-dime baxk in 1979 up to my new limited-edition Nike Terminators with the Seattle Supersonics colors. I call those my Green Bay Packers shoes because I like that team better and the colors are the same.

If you’ve read this blog much, you know that I’ve spent a fair amount of time ruminating about my sneaker collection, so I’ll close. But I would like to know what people out in Steve-land think about their sneaks: favorites, embarrassments, ones that got away, the ones you wear forever if they made them; that sort of thing. I can’t wait to hear what you all have to say.

rambling about music (9/15)

I’ve been thinking a lot about music lately. It’s not unusual, because I love music. My mom says I have a stronger “ear” for it than my brother Allen, who actually is a musician (guitar, trumpet, drums, you name it). I’m not sure about all that, but I know I have to have music almost everywhere I go, via the radio or otherwise, and I own somewhere around 500 CDs (although only 400 or so are any good). In fact I’m listening to one right now, “The Many Facets of Roger,” by Roger Troutman.

Here lately, I’ve been on a CD buying kick, picking up new releases from The Roots, Jill Scott, Anita Baker, Loretta Lynn, and Jamie Cullum, plus a Steely Dan compilation and a couple of other things whose names are alluding me as I type. Just about everything has been really good. Faye at work let me borrow her Jet CD, and that was cool, too. It’s been a beautiful month for music I like, as the previous few months have left me a little cold music-wise. One of these days, I’m actually going to review some of these CDs on the blog, so stay tuned.

the federated name game (aka: welcome to macy's)

Well, they’ve done it again. Federated Department Stores has announced yet another round of name-changes for its regional department stores. Now, they’re no longer going to have regional identities as far as signage, bags, et cetera are concerned. They’re all going to be Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s, mostly the former. This comes on the heels of an awkward period in which the various chains shared their banner with Macy’s, creating such goofy monikers as Rich’s-Macy’s, Bon-Macy’s and Goldsmith’s-Macy’s, among others.

Don’t get me wrong. Macy’s is not a bad name, and virtually everyone who shops knows it. But the hyphenated names were a joke from the start. The old regionals were fast becoming more and more like each other. If I took an average person into Rich’s, for example, blindfolded them, teleported them to Macy’s and removed the blindfold, they would be hard-pressed to tell they were in a different store.

This whole name-changing thing reeks of goofiness. In cases where there were already Macy’s stores in a market with the former regionals, Macy’s did some high-profile exits, particularly in Atlanta, which lost Macy’s in several malls and downtown. And FDS assured customers of Rich’s, Lazarus and Burdines that things would only get better. Now, they announce that they plan to officially finish the job in converting its store base into a national chain when they’ve already done it through centralized buying and divisional consolidations, things that made operating costs cheaper, but did nothing for Joe and Jane Consumer.

They really could have saved themselves some sign and stationery money and done this in the first place.

Monday, September 13, 2004

take steve out to the ball game

This is the Baltimore Orioles game I went to on the Abbott Trailways bus trip on Sunday. I had so much fun. I’m not even a huge baseball fan, but there’s something about going to see it in person that’s really cool. Oriole Park at Camden Yards is a hell of a place. More on this later.

O's fall short against Yanks
09/12/2004 5:49 PM ET
By Gary Washburn /

BALTIMORE -- Given the responsibility to keep the Orioles in a game they had no business being in Sunday, Jorge Julio continued his September struggles as the Orioles lost another late-inning game against the Yankees. And a series that began with an impressive win on Friday night ended in all too familiar disappointing fashion.

Julio allowed back-to-back home runs to Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui, as the Yankees rallied back from a three-run deficit to beat the Orioles, 9-7, in front of 47,780 at Camden Yards. The Orioles' pitching staff, straightened out since the arrival of pitching coach Ray Miller, walked a season-high 14 batters, and the Yankees left a whopping 17 runners on base, their most in 10 years.

Yet, the Orioles actually had a chance to win and Julio was called on in the ninth to preserve a 7-7 tie. It took one batter to lose the lead. Julio gave up Sheffield's home run on a hanging slider to break the tie. Matsui then crushed a fastball over the center-field wall to spark further concerns about Julio's future as a closer. He has three losses in the past week and has allowed five runs -- including three homers -- in just 1 2/3 innings.

Manager Lee Mazzilli, who has enough concerns in the final few weeks, reiterated that Julio is his closer. "He's gonna be our guy tomorrow," he said. "Closing takes a special mentality and he's got to get through it. It's his job. He has to go at it regardless if it a save situation [or not]."

It's been a difficult week for Julio, who before this month had not been getting consistent work. Last Sunday at Yankee Stadium, Julio walked the bases loaded and then walked Jorge Posada to score the winning run for New York. On Tuesday against Minnesota, he allowed the go-ahead two-run homer by Michael Cuddyer and then threw a high-and-tight pitch at Augie Ojeda before being ejected by home plate umpire Ron Kulpa.

He was suspended for four games and is appealing the suspension.

"I'm fine," he said in his usual calm demeanor. "I wanted to try a slider to Sheffield and he was waiting for that pitch. [Sheffield and Matsui] are two good hitters. It happens."

The nine-inning game lasted three hours, 55 minutes and Mazzilli went through 10 pitchers, a Major League record for a regulation game. The Orioles actually led, 6-3, in the sixth inning, despite the Yankees' constant threats to take the lead. Perhaps one of the game's key decisions occurred in the sixth, when Mazzilli decided to summon Dave Borkowski to relieve Rick Bauer.

It took Borkowski just four batters to lose the lead. He promptly gave up a single to Kenny Lofton and then walked Derek Jeter. Alex Rodriguez pounced on a straight fastball for a two-run double to right-center field.

Borkowski, who spent most of the past three years in the minors but suddenly has been thrust into the right-handed setup role, then gave up a laser single down thleft-field line from Sheffield to cash in Rodriguez for the tie.

"If I just make some pitches and do my job, we win this game," he said. "It's stupid. You can sit there and allow a hit and then walk a guy and you've got A-Rod and Sheffield coming up. If I get out of that inning, with [Jason] Grimsley, [B.J.] Ryan and Julio to pitch the next three innings, I like our chances."

The Orioles built a 6-3 lead, thanks to some timely hitting with runners in scoring position. Rafael Palmeiro blooped a double to right-center field to score two off Jon Lieber in the first inning. Baltimore jumped ahead 4-2 in the bottom of the second, when David Newhan laced a two-out, two-run single to score Jay Gibbons and Larry Bigbie, both of whom singled.

Newhan then contributed another two-out RBI single in the fourth for a 6-3 lead. But the O's managed just one run in the final five innings.

The Orioles were lucky to be ahead because rookie right-hander Daniel Cabrera had no command, walking six batters in 1 2/3 innings. He walked three of the first five batters faced, and then issued a pass to Ruben Sierra for a Yankees run in the first inning.

He gave up singles to Cairo and Rodriguez and then walked Sheffield and Matsui to score another run. He was pulled after just 1 2/3 innings, his shortest outing of the season. Just 27 of his 60 pitches were strikes.

"I felt the same as before, I felt good," Cabrera said. "I don't know why all my balls were up, maybe I throw too hard. I really don't know what happened."

it's a custom job, part two

I just read Tim’s going to customize some sneakers. We’ve been talking about it for a day or two (He brought it up and I mentioned it on a previous post) and I’m posting this to give myself a little inspiration. He can’t have all the fun by himself, y’know. I got this from b!ohazRD at the Sole Collector forum and am passing it along to anyone who’s less chicken than me.

-Angelus Leather PAINT (get from or
-Acetone (or shoe preparer) (Home Depot or hardware stores)
-Brushes (Medium, Fine, and Broad) (art stores)
-Cotton Balls (for acetone) (pharmacies)
-Finish Coat (Waxy layer) (Foot Locker, shoe repair shops)
(For flat colors add Liquitex Textile Medium to your paint...maybe a 3:1 ratio of paint to medium. for gloss coat and gloss medium to the mixture)

Step 1: Put Acetone on the Cotton Ball (be careful this stuff is harmful use gloves) and rub area where you will apply paint. Make sure the waxy layer is off the leather (it will turn grey... if not look at the cotton ball and if there is a paste like substance it is the waxy layer) ***This is really an important step in the process of customization in general. Cleaning the object is always important for the durability of the job. Be sure to clean it very well***

Step 2: Get paint ready (mix colors for your needs) Now take your brush and apply paint once to your area (it mite be uneven DONT WORRY) and make sure it isn't bumpy or really thick. LET DRY

Step 3: Apply another coat of paint to the area (it should look better now but not completely the best) LET DRY

Step 4: Apply the last coat but put the least amount of paint on your brush and this will be the last layer of paint. LET DRY.

Step 5: This step is optional. Angelus already has a waterproofed coat but for a professional finish spray a waxy layer on the paint area. this will not make it shiny or dull and will not affect the colors. NOTES: *** waxy layer is another term for a waterproofer.*** -If you would like to use dyes, it is not recommended. Dye are is you would want to fix up some old black shoes. Paints enable you to create custom colors.

::::notes on COLORS::::
-Primary colors: RED BLUE YELLOW.
-Neutral colors: BLACK WHITE GREY (get these 6 colors as the starters kit)
-MIXING IRREGULAR COLORS: here are sum irregular colors that u mite run into while trying to mix
-TO GET TAN/GUM--- 65% yellow_30% brown_3%white_2%orange
-TO GET LIGHT RED--- 85% red_22% orange_3% white
-TO GET CAROLINA BLUE--- 65% blue_33% white_2% magenta(people might object to this. but trust me. if u just mix 50% blue and 50% white with angelus u will get a blue more on the aqua side)
-TO GET LIME GREEN--- 85% green_15% yellow

:::notes on PAINTING::: (tips)
-do NOT paint in ONE thick coat. DO paint several thin coats
-DO wipe brush on side of jar after dipping in paint. This prevents thick, drippy, coats.
-DO use medium brush when painting areas that are not small nor big. (e.g. a swoosh)
-if u wish to paint the midsole, please understand that it will NOT stay on the rubber for a lasted amount of time and MAY crack. But if you do not care (or if you would just like to display them) you can use angelus paints to paint the midsole. But clean the surface well and paints about 5 coats. Then spray (or apply) varnish (longer lasting protection) after you are finish painting the midsole. Again, please note it is not recommended you paint the midsoles.
-if you would like to change the color of the stitching on the shoe (such as on the NIKE AIR sign on the back of an AF1, you must know that the stitching will harden once painted on. Use a fine tipped brush for this or a fine tipped paint marker.
-PAINTING LOGOS: one material needed. TALENT
-DO use creativity when you are customizing.
-DO put alot of effort when you are customizing. Even if u are sloppy, if you show a lot of effort and thought into your sneaker you wont get clowned on. if you just put sum paint on a swoosh and toe, and say u customized a sneaker, that’s not showing that u put a lot of time into your sneaker.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

we'll miss you, professor k

As if this being the third anniversary of 9/11 wasn't tragic enough, I learned on a much lighter, but still sad, note that is shutting down. Professor K, the site's webmaster, has decided to move on, and now there will be one less site where sneakerheads and ballers can discuss and check out the latest basketball shoes. He says he'll still write articles for Sole Collector magazine, but the website will be no more in a couple weeks.

I could kind of see the end coming a year ago when the reviews became fewer and farther between, but I never expected him to shut down so suddenly. If you've never been to the site, I suggest that you do, and soon, and if you want leave some kind words for Professor K. Anyone who's ever put together a website knows how hard it can be to keep the content fresh enough that people keep coming.

If you ever happen to read this, good luck, Professor K. We'll miss your site.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

it's a custom job

My new friend Tim was having trouble getting in touch with me via email, (Hotmail sucks, BTW) so he posted a couple of comments on previous posts about customizing Nike Air Force One's. It' something I've always thought about since I read Bobitto Garcia's book, Where'd You Get Those, but not something that I've actively persued.

If I had my druthers, I would customize the AF1’s in the white-white colorway. I think it would break up the monochromatic sameness of it. Not that I don’t dig white on white (it’s a classic), but it seems like customizing something like that could be done in a way that was fun and cool. And the all-whites are like an artist's canvas waiting for paint. Especially when you see all those wild colors in the stores and magazines. When I was in NY and DC recently, I saw any number of special AF1 and Dunk models. I don’t know where to start, though.

If I ever get the itch to try customizing, I would try it (at first) on a less expensive shoe than the AF1s. My knowledge of many things retail leads has me noticing that Dillard’s carries the white-on-white lo-top Dunks in their stores for a little less than the AF1’s (about $65.00, or less on clearance). That could be a place to start. It’s less paint and a cheaper shoe, but still cool.

Ah, but motivating myself to start...

take your time, man

I'm not a regular reader of Carolyn Hax's column, Tell Me About It ®, in the Washington Post but I read it on my recent trip to Washington. I thought this advice was encouraging for those of us "late bloomers" out there...

Dear Carolyn:
I'm 21, live at home, am in college -- I am in recovery from a two-year period of severe manic depression -- and have recently been diagnosed bipolar. I've had problems with depression since I was a kid and because of that have been slow to develop socially. Therapy and drugs are the difference between making it and not making it right now. My problem is that I feel hopelessly unprepared and lagging behind -- I have never held a job, gone on a date, voluntarily participated in a social activity, etc., and I am terrified. I'm 21! People my age are starting businesses and getting married, and I've just learned how to drive (my finest achievement). My sister says there's no timeline and to go at my own pace. At my pace I'll have wasted half my life before I ever live it. Any wisdom for late bloomers?
Late, Late Bloomer

Carolyn says: There are people your age who've never left the mainstream, faced their own frailties or overcome a significant handicap. Talk about hopelessly unprepared.

I know, I know. You'd prefer to have worked, dated, gone out with your friends. I'd prefer these things for you, too. I think. Not to get too Capra-esque on you, but too often, the very thing you regard as your worst nightmare/most gruesome mistake/biggest setback in life turns out to be the root of your greatest joy.

There will be people you never would have met had you not struggled -- or opportunities you never would have gotten, perspectives you wouldn't have formed, reservoirs of strength you never would have discovered, much less tapped -- that will someday become valuable enough to you to change your view of your illness. (Assuming this isn't in progress already.) It's not a basket of money and a roomful of caroling friends, but it's something.

Whatever it is, will it be enough to make you look back on your depression fondly? Doubtful; I said Capra, not Pollyanna. More likely, it'll become the hell you never want to relive -- but wouldn't trade, either, since that would mean giving up everything you've achieved since.

Embrace this, and you'll start to see there is no such thing as "wast(ing) half your life." You are living your life. You've been living your life. So it's not the life you'd envisioned; look around, you've joined a popular club.

Now stop beating yourself, extend your hand and, at whatever pace you can bear, start introducing yourself to fellow club members. There's no time like the present -- also known as, whenever you're good and ready

Monday, September 06, 2004

backhanded record review

I read this in the Washington Post and thought, "Why is this guy reviewing an Alan Parsons album?" Why review something that you're not going to look at objectively? I'm no Parsons fan but geez... Please read below.

A VALID PATH Alan Parsons

Ever wonder what the hobbit DJs would spin if you went clubbing in downtown Middle-Earth? How lucky, then, that veteran art-rock keyboardist Alan Parsons has concocted this freaky, geeky foray into Goth atmospherics and techno beats.

Parsons knows his way around a set of headphones. A 10-time Grammy nominee and respected engineer, he twiddled knobs on Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" (1973) before landing audiophile-pleasing hits of his own, such as 1982's "Eye in the Sky," in his Alan Parsons Project.

Still, 55-year-olds typically aren't sought-after electronica musicians. So between flourishes from contemporary guests such as Uberzone and the Crystal Method, Parsons wisely reconnects with his past by updating old Project standards: "Mammagamma '04" and "A Recurring Dream Within a Dream," which seems to be sung by robots.

Aside from sheer nerdiness, consistency is a problem. Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour opens the album by lending a cool hand to the trippy, nine-minute instrumental "Return to Tunguska." But Parsons follows with pure pop sap -- "More Lost Without You," on which vocalist P.J. Olsson stakes his claim to be the new singer for Bud Light's "Real Men of Genius" campaign.

By the time we reach the chanting, apparently by robe-wearing monk dudes, on the final epic, "Chomolungma," it's tough not to laugh. Imagine Bilbo Baggins rave-dancing at a "Dungeons & Dragons" house party . . . at least until a large dog starts barking at the end of the CD. That's when any smart hobbit would run -- which is what all but Parsons die-hards should probably do.
-- Michael Deeds

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Tanglewood Mall's website

On a recent trip to what's left of the mall closest to my house, Tanglewood Mall in Roanoke, Virginia, I looked on their elcetronic sign by the highway and noticed they now have a website at To my knowledge, this is the first official one they've ever had. It's nice to see something positive happen there, because the last decade or so has been hell for them. You can read a little more about my version of the mall's back story at by clicking here.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

save the capitol room

This email was sent to and to Belk, Inc. in support of their campaign to save The Capitol Room cafeteria at Hudson Belk, Crabtree Valley Mall, Raleigh, NC. I felt that Belk should know my position as well.

I just wanted to say that I appreciate the efforts of Norma Baker Cook and Betsy Pridgen to persuade Belk, Inc. to reconsider the closing of the Capitol Room Cafeteria at Hudson Belk, Crabtree Valley Mall. I read about it in the Raleigh News & Observer.

Crabtree Valley Mall’s Hudson Belk store is dominant, unique and serves as the standard by which other Belk stores are judged. Even though the store achieved excellent sales figures with its former full-line merchandise mix, recent changes have removed department after department, including furniture. Now Belk wants to take away the last distinctive, endearing feature of the store for more clothing racks and a new entry. While I understand their position, I take issue with their assertion that the Capitol Room Cafeteria is unneeded.

Generations of Triangle families have depended of the Capitol Room for delicious food at reasonable prices. There is a lot of love for the place. So many good memories involve the Capitol Room, from first dates to family dinners to the finalization of business deals. Blaming the opening of The Cheesecake Factory at Crabtree on declining sales when no advertising or renovation of any form has been done on the Capitol Room’s behalf (and especially when the two restaurants defy comparison) is a weak attempt to explain a decision that is mostly being done, in my opinion, to further standardize the Belk chain.

The company made a similar move at SouthPark mall in Charlotte, closing the much loved Barclay cafeteria, alienating at least two generations of Charlotte shoppers, many of whom cut up their Belk charge cards in protest and vowed never to shop there ever again. Belk SouthPark used the same reason for closing as Hudson Belk is using today: too much competition and a shifting marketplace. The store still thrives, of course, but a major gaffe as I’ve described certainly caused Belk some public relations damage and made the store less enticing for families and the older generation, who by the way, faithfully spends its money at stores like Belk.

I feel there has to be a way to placate the needs of local diners while attracting new shoppers. Some form of traditional dining is needed not only at Hudson Belk at Crabtree, but would be an added amenity to all the larger Belk stores in the Triangle. Properly advertised, it could be a destination, much like Nordstrom’s café and eBar in Durham. In a 250,000 square foot store which I believed is owned by Belk, in a mall that wants to expand its dining options, there has to be room for something like this.