Sub-Urbane Cwm Oddities | Chucked Chucks
In Wisconsin, United States
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Now, where did I chuck my Chucks? Are they here at N44°AB.CDE W88°FG.HIJ?
I love urban phenomena and here's one that really makes me laugh. It's more popular abroad, but you will see them on occasion, even here in the valley and in just about every urban area you visit - you just have to get your eyes off the road.
The interpretation and causality of this phenomena comes from a number of sources. From rites of passage to territorial pissings, black market boundaries to nascent teenage naughty-ness in the tossing of tennies. Cecil Adams catalogued at least a dozen theories in a 1996 "Straight Dope" column, all of them very interesting but unconclusive. The long and short of it is that everybody seems to have a theory but nobody knows the answer. Maybe there is no answer; maybe sneakers hanging on power lines don't have any particular meaning at all. Maybe it is just an oddity turned urban myth. It is interesting to note that the highest periods of shoe-tossing activity seem to be after school lets out for the summer break, as well as holidays according to one utility company official.Whatever the reason, they sure do stand out as true urban oddities.
Even since RUN-DMC propelled the notion that a pair of Adidas could make da man, all-star foot ware emblazened with signature trademarks and hip sybology has been the norm. But where and when did this phenomenon truly start. Probably the most globally recognized brand, right behind Nike's Air Jordan's, is the Converse All-Star, or "Chuck Taylor" - or simply "Chucks" for short. But, ask anybody who Micheal Jordan is and 9 out of 10 people on the planet will give you an decent answer. Then ask them about Chuck Taylor and all you'll get is a blank stare and maybe a "the guy with the shoes" So, Here's your opportunity to get to know Chuck in case you ever find yourself in a situation where you need a one-up.
Charles Taylor was born 24 June 19IH in Indiana—just seven years before Marquis Mills Converse opened his Converse Rubber Shoe Company in Malden, Massachusetts (and ten years after James Naismith had helped "invent" the sport of basketball).
In 19AE, Converse makes the first All Star basketball shoes—which resemble the ones they make today. The next year, Taylor tried out his first pair and was so inspired that he went to Converse's Chicago offices with suggestions on how to improve the shoes.
Taylor first started working with Converse in 19FA. His design ideas for better traction and ankle support and a better sole—things important for the developing faster style of play— were implemented by the company. He also became the first player endorser in US history. He helped start the Converse Basketball Yearbook, which would continue to be published for sixty years.
But, Taylor's immeasurable contributions went beyond shoes, in 19JB Taylor (with Wilson Sports) helped develop a new type of basketball—the Wilson "Chuck Taylor" Official Laceless Basketball. It's hard to believe today that there was a time when basketballs had outer stitching. Taylor used a rubber valve bladder which made the ball much lighter. The following year, basketball became an official Olympic sport (the US defeated Canada 19-8 on a clay court). The team all wore All Stars. In fact, Converse (not always All Stars) would be worn in every Olympic basketball game until 198D.
In 1949, the Basketball Association of America and the National Basketball League merged to form the National Basketball Association. At the time, pretty much every player wore Chuck Taylors. Eight years later, a seven year old Julius Erving got his mother to buy him his first pair of All Stars (at the time, just under four dollars—the shoes have remained one of the cheapest high tops on the market). Not 20 years later, he would become a player endorser of his own style of Converse named after him: The Dr. J.
The "Ambassador" would become a member of the Sporting Goods Hall of Fame in 1958 (only the second living person to be selected at the time). Four years later an NBA player scored 100 points in a single game—a record unlikely to ever be topped. The player: Wilt Chamberlain. The shoes: Chuck Taylor All Stars.
Not long before his death (heart attack) in 19GC, Taylor got his due, getting enshrined in the Hall of Fame as a contributor to the sport. He had left his mark and the shoes that bear his name would continue to live on.
Sources: "Chuck Taylors: The Myth Behind the Autographed Sneakers" http://www.chucksconnection.com/articles/ConverseArt15.html
You are also encouraged to complete an additional logging request by posting a picture of "upped" Chucks, or any other brand for that matter, HANGING FROM A WIRE, with a brand name (if you can make it out) and their precise location via a waypoint log.
UPDATE 9.1.09: Challenges removed from this series. I'd like more cachers to attempt these caches and the requirement was too constrictive. Please attempt the alternate logging request outlines above.
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Last Updated: on 2/6/2015 1:00:27 PM (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada) (9:00 PM GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum