September 22, 2006 - The Shoes Above Us
If you search the Internet for the answer to the million dollars question, “Are shoes thrown over telephone lines a sign of gang activity?” you will see that most people don’t think they are. It’s even called an ‘urban legend’ by websites whose only focus is uncovering urban legends.
In Santa Barbara it’s easy to see that certain areas of town have more hanging sneakers in them than others (and we’re not talking about Big 5).
And, it doesn’t take a PhD in socio-economics to figure out that the places in town with the most shoe-hanging-phoria are also the places with the highest housing densities and the lowest household incomes. But some food for thought (Filet of sole?): These places are also the ones with the lowest and most visible utility wires.
Putting two shoes together, these places also happen to be the places where popular wisdom tells us unpopular and ignorant people that this is where the gangs are – east side, west side all around the town. Oh yeah, there are a lot of shoes in Isla Vista, too.
You can read the websites and develop you own theories. Ed, however, doesn’t really care why the shoes are put up there on the wires.
He thinks a more important question is why doesn’t anyone ever take them down. As anyone who runs Nite Moves or the Santa Barbara Half Marathon knows, there have been a couple of sneakers hanging next to La Mesa Park for more than two years! Other shoes in other parts of town tell a similar story.
This is not a not a diss on Firefighters, but as Ed sees it, they have a fair amount of down time, and they do have a lot of trucks with tall ladders on them. Maybe they could make shoe removal part of their routine?
Yesterday, the dedicated staff of edhat.com drove around town looking for sneakers in the sky with laces. As expected, we found them on the Lower East Side and the West Side.
Sneakers tended to clump together. In front of the Italian Market, there were six pairs (including one pair of white boots). On a corner of Alisos, there were four. On San Pascual, there were two pairs of shoes intertwined in the same position they would be had there been people in the shoes who were standing up and kissing.
Overall the dedicated staff found 30 pairs of shoes hanging from telephone and power wires. Well, actually it was only 29 pairs and one mixed pair consisting of a shoe tied to a water bottle. We photographed each pair and once the pictures were loaded on to our computer, we looked at them and recorded each shoe’s brand.
In case you didn’t know, viewing digital pictures to make out fine detail is not exactly as it is shown on TV. In the cop shows they outline an area in a rectangle, push a button, and instantly, the blurry picture is enhanced to be 100% readable and suitable for framing. In the real world, you zoom in and in, but the clarity stays the same. And, the enhancement capability of the software doesn’t seem to work as well as it does for Jack Bauer. Oh well.
Of the 30 shoes, we were able to get a positive ID on the brands of 19 of them. For the other 11 we either; couldn’t find a logo (even though they were brand new, they didn’t seem to have a brand), or the logo was not a familiar one (brand on the run).
Of the 19 shoes we could identify, six were Nike (20%), five were Converse, three were Adidas, and three were K-Swiss. In yesterday’s contest, Margo got the count and the amount right on nose. Her guess of Nike/20% was a perfect swish (or should we say, swoosh). Margo wins an Edhat t-shirt and thirty used pairs of shoes courtesy of the Santa Barbara Fire Department (kidding).
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