Last summer, I was interviewed for an Australian film about Shoefiti (shoes hanging from powerlines) called The Mystery of Flying Kicks. The film now exists and had a showing at South by Southwest back in March. I received a DVD of it from Adelaide this week. Sure enough, I’m in it:
But there is more than one Minnesota connection in this movie exploring the mystery of shoefiti. John Hoff of Johnny Northside fame and one of his North Minneapolis partners in crime fighting, Peter Teachout, are profiled as well.
This turned out to be an awesome project. People from around the world called in with their own theories and personal experiences with shoefiti, and they contributed songs, illustrations, photos and videos that help tell the story of why shoes are thrown over powerlines. Great stuff.
I decided to take my Run Minneapolis project to North Minneapolis on Saturday with The Other Mike. We ventured to the Western end of 26th Ave N where it meets Theodore Wirth Parkway where kids push their dads down sledding hills.
From there, we headed East on 26th past Amazing Oriental Supermarket (live bait).
As some of you have probably heard, shoefiti is often correlated with areas where drugs are sold. While Mike and I didn’t see any open air drug dealing during our run, this particular area of Minneapolis does have its share of problems. Johnny Northside can fill you in on the deets.
The next step on this run was an ugly one for me. My left foot landed in a pothole and rolled over while making popping sounds like it cracking a colorful carrot. My ankle was suddenly severely sprained or broken at the corner of 26th & Bryant.
Mike worked his way back to the car while I sat in the street icing my quickly swelling ankle. Quite a few people slowed down to ask me if I was okay. No one tried to sell me drugs while I lay beneath shoes hanging from the powerlines, and no one asked to buy drugs from me. One guy walking by who looked and dressed like Omar from The Wire (but without a sawed-off) asked me if I was aight. I told him I sprained my ankle to which he responded, “You gotta walk that off.” Dude, I would if I could.
Once Mike got me home, Carly shuttled me to the Fairview urgent care clinic in Highland Park where I was the third ankle issue in a row the doctor got to see. Here’s a self-portrait I took from my wheelchair:
The doctor told me that my ankle looked the worst. He’s what she saw:
Here is what I accomplished before taking myself out:
I can count on my friend Dusty Olson checking in from time to time from some cool location with a quick voicemail.
For example, I mentioned on here a little over a week ago that I was quoted in a newspaper in Newark about Shoefiti. It turns out that the Newark story received quite a bit of syndication nationally, including San Diego and Seattle.
Guess who happened to be reading the Seattle Times earlier this week? My friend Dusty.
He left me an awesome voicemail explaining how I’ve hit the big time now that I’m a nationally recognized expert on the subject of shoes hanging from powerlines.
I’ve set his voicemail to a slideshow of photos of Dusty at various ultramarathons around the country, including the Western States 100 where he paces our friend Scott Jurek to victory in that grueling 100 mile trail run.
For those of you who follow shoefiti as closely as I do (LOL) it should come as no surprise to hear that Newark, New Jersey has a shoefiti problem on their hands.
I had a chance to discuss New Jersey’s shoefiti issue with a reporter from The Star Ledger last week for an article that ran today. One of the things I tried to get across was that it doesn’t really matter why they ended up on the lines of people’s perception is negative:
Shoe mystery hangs over city – NJ.com
What counts most is how the community feels about the shoes.
“If the perception is people associate it with blight, it’s got to come down because people will feel less safe,” said Kohler.
One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced with getting shoes removed from powerlines locally has been dealing with Xcel Energy. As I understand it, they have a policy of “driver’s discretion” for dealing with items on powerlines that aren’t interfering with power. While that’s understandable, they way it’s applied is to remove shoes from lines in the nicer areas of Minneapolis while leaving them up in the tougher neighborhoods, thus inadvertently contributing to the blight of areas that need the most help.
Swap out Xcel Energy for Verizon to see how this applies in Newark:
Verizon doesn’t take the shoe issue as seriously as Waldrop. Rich Young, a spokesman, said the shoes are taken down if they are causing problems with the network, if they get a complaint or if a technician just happens to be working near an airborne pair.
“In general we do not send out technicians on patrol looking for sneakers,” said Young. “This is a problem all over the state. We would need a small army of technicians dedicated to shoe removal.”
The old, “Sure, they’re our lines, but we’re not responsible for them.” routine.
Ed Kohler is the creator of shoefiti.com, a Web site that tracks shoefiti across the country and world. He says he created the term in 2005, after noticing shoes on utility lines near his Minneapolis, Minn., home.
Nobodyâ€™s ever been able to scientifically identify a reason for the dangling shoes, but they pop up in several different countries and in cities of all sizes, Kohler said.
The real reasons could depend on where the shoes are found, he said.
â€œOn the lighter side of things, if itâ€™s near a high school, itâ€™s probably a case of hazing or something like that,â€ said Kohler, 33. â€œIf itâ€™s near a military base, it might be something where people finish their time and theyâ€™re celebrating.â€
Jeff and Sarah may remember when I did this interview while stepping out from the Riverview Wine Bar for a few minutes on May 25th.