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The Doomed dance.Chuck Taylor All Stars.a Butane Glow

By Sean C Tarry
June 1st, 2004

Ah yes!  The horrid ring of the debt-collector.  Mustn't answer that.  Can only offer heartache; surely.  Only a lout on the other end when I lift the receiver anyway.  Hardheaded and mean.  Ready to provide advice and clerical insight pertaining to everything financial.  A second mortgage.  Sell your soul.  And all the indecencies and low-minded accusations.  Not today.  Got to keep my top level.  Work to do.  Can't go sideways on this one.  Too many times the stinkpots have ruined my fortunes.  There's got to be an end.  And maybe it's here.  If not, perhaps it'll be along soon enough.

A coffee with a spilling of whiskey; to lend the vigour.  Cigarettes.  Some of the other stuff.  But not too much.  Always maintaining, and believing in, a sense of moderation.  Light that now.

Open the windows and close the blinds.  Gets stinky in here.  Can't let the smell seep into the hallway.  Worried minds, and contempt in this apartment building.  And the television screeching a tocsin.  Apocalyptic.  Images dancing a doomed dance across the darkness of my living room; the crazed white man and his inbred son running amok in Iraq.spewing sovereign disdain all over a culture they can't understand.flashing like a reel of film sputtering toward one last big show.last big hurrah.a final thrust in the direction of danger and unmitigated fear for all.  Oh my!  That's ugly.  I shouldn't have to think rotten shit like that.  Can't allow thoughts to interfere with business.

Okay now.  Turned the TV down.  But keep the effigies glowing.  Une Chien Andalou is starting to grow some meaning.  And some music for motivation.  Never too much motivation.  That's it.  Now to some writing.

A letter:

To Jack A. Boys,
c/o Converse Inc.,
One High Street,
North Andover, Ma,

Dear Jack,

It is with great displeasure that I write to inform you of the less than adequate quality of workmanship in re: my most recent pair of Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars (blue canvas hightops).  I am a lifelong wearer of the shoe with the star on the side, and don't find it beyond myself to suggest that we settle up on some sort of agreement of restitution for my troubles.

The said footwear was purchased less than three months ago inside a store named Groovy, in Toronto; a reputable distributor of the shoe noted on your company's website, and within less than two months of wear, the canvas was beginning to tear away from the rubber sole on the outside of each shoe.

It's not the way in which the shoes began to deteriorate that bothered me; in fact, the same, or, similar damage from wear has happened to some of the other Chucks that I've owned.  But it's the shortness of time that it took for this damage to occur to the pair of shoes in question.

Good strangled Jesus!  Goddam phone again.  Yank it off its jack.  Somebody trying to sell me something.  Trying to preach something.  Somebody trying to pull me away from my work at hand.  Go out and make some money and spend it.  Eat well. 

Another drink.  Walking over to the whiskey cabinet.  Only one shot left.  Plenty of ice.  And a shout from down the hallway.  He was shouting at whom?  His children.  His girlfriend.  Himself.  The wall.  Who cares?  They've disrupted my thought.  More shouting and a laugh and some more shouting still. 

Agitated.  Sitting down to ignore the clamour from down the way.  A grey day to write.but my loafers are starting to give me blisters on my heels.  Always business.

.Now, the reasons behind the premature dilapidation of the shoes strikes me as more than a little confusing.  I didn't treat this pair any differently than those that I've owned in the past and, in fact, consider my general treatment of footwear to be first class.

I do, however, recall the kid at the store spitting out something like, "These were manufactured in China.  Think there's a difference in quality.  They make them in China and in the States.  Just letting you know."

I didn't pay too much attention to what he was saying because he was cleaning my newly bought shoes with toilet paper and was creating more of a mess than anything.  But the point is quality, Jack.  I remembered his words the other day, which is what sparked this correspondence.

The boy's modest, and personal advice that he gave to me at the store that day can clearly not be held as legally binding advice from Converse Inc., nor is it a suitable excuse as to the poor quality of the shoes.  There's that word again. 

But what his unheeded words did for me was plant a seed in my head.  And one that has only just sprouted.

What the hell Jack?  We are talking about the shoes that 'started a cultural revolution'.  I don't particularly subscribe to that sort of commercially motivated flimflam, nor do I expect you to have the insight or retrospect needed to answer as spokesperson of the American icon we call Chucks.  But some sort of explanation would be nice.  And a new pair of Chuck Taylor All Stars.  And not those God-awful 2K4's that you're trying to peddle.  I want the real thing.  Hightops.  Blue.

Where's my butane?  Can create beautiful logic with these words, but cannot hallow the thoughts from which they are borne.  Should burn those shoes.  Ripped and irritating me.  Burn them symbolically.  A token for all that's lost.  No, for all that needs to be done.  I'll burn them tonight.

Another cigarette.  Fuck, no more drink.  Going to have to get up to the store for more.  Walk past the old ladies sitting on the bench; pallid and mumbling.  Walk past them and feel those blisters open.  Slowly at first.  Then a tear.  Soft fresh skin against my sock.  Red patches and the luck of Estragon.  Those Chucks will burn.  O the weapons by which we the tender hearted live.  Butane and a match.then we'll get ourselves a new pair.  Convince the bastard of this.  Convince and then reap.

.Excuse me, Mr. Boys, if I sound a little forward on this next score; but I believe that I may understand and appreciate the significance of the role that the Chuck Taylor shoe has played in our cultural history more than you.  And perhaps for good reasons. 

I understand and adhere to the statements that the shoe helps manifest for its wearer:  Individuality.  Rebellion.  Intellect.  A mindful thought before irrational action.  The creation of love, rather than the propagation of violence and hatred.  A step outside of the loop; intentionally or not.  The courage to state an opinion, and the strength to listen to others.  The conviction to fight for just cause.  And the sense to aid the downtrodden.  Theses are the characteristics and ideas from the minds of the men who have worn the star on their ankle.  The shoe has provided a commonality, if you will, among these people.  And commonalities are what every one of the good needs more than anything else.

Now, because of the aforementioned theme that the shoe brings with it, I find it extremely difficult to leave my home feeling myself if I'm not wearing my Chucks.  And I would hate to find out that the sole cause behind this malpractice is cheap labour.  Cheap labour influencing poor quality resulting in tens of thousands of pairs of rotten shoes.  Pay them money over there in China and they'll make a decent shoe.  I'd wager on it.

But for now, Jack, try to learn more about the shoes that you're selling, and apply some of the integrity and honesty that the Chuck epitomizes into your own life.

You know, I cried because I hadn't any Chuck Taylors, then I met a man without a soul.

Send me some shoes!

Sean C. Tarry

No more shouting in the apartment building.  And the weatherman's on CNN.  Should get to the liquor store.  And burn those old Chucks.  Go down into the ditch and get some sleep.  And dream of a better tomorrow.


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