Let the Kids Have Their Goddamn Childhood!
I really can’t help but put my own personal spin on the well-worn subject of old sneakerheads who-simply-won’t-shut-the-f$%k-up and realise it’s not 1993 anymore. I’m far from young. I don’t like naps, I need them. I’m in the age category where if I felt like taking a dump on the younger generation of sneakerheads, I could do it. On top of that, I’d get a pass from all my brothers and sisters in the game who are in the same age bracket as me – AKA all the old farts who need to hurry up and die. Hang on tight, because I’m gonna let loose this time!
I saw Michael Jordan play on actual television, not just in janky highlight reels that were uploaded to YouTube a few weeks ago. I bought some of the most sought-after sneakers straight off of store shelves during busy weekends in malls across America. No line-ups, no raffles, none of the craziness associated with any hyped release of the past five years. Then I laced them up on the ride home (in a car with no seat belts) so I could ball in them the second mom pulled into the driveway. Remember when Boyz II Men wore original Concord 11s to the Grammy Awards? I do. Remember when Air Max boxes were small and narrow? I do. Or when a collaboration was so rare it shocked people who were into kicks because ‘so-and-so’ working with ‘brand x’ on a shoe was almost unheard of? I remember all that stuff like it happened only yesterday.
I can cherry-pick sneaker history while flashing my tattered birth certificate in a bunch of shiny acne-free infant faces. I can make the typical old man hater comments in an attempt to get the kiddies to admit they’re somehow second best, that they don’t stack up to me, that no matter what they say, today is simply not as good as yesterday. I could do that, but here’s the issue – it only achieves one thing. It proves that I’m an asshole.
We’re talking about sneakers here. You shouldn’t be dividing everyone up into the smallest groups possible, then giving watery reasons why one group is better than the other. That’s absolutely ridiculous. Now, I’m not saying reminiscing and drawing comparisons is a bad thing. I live for a good conversation about older shoes and all that stuff. What I’m attacking here is ‘Team Fibre One’ constantly picking on ‘Team Yeezy Boost.’
"I can make the typical old man hater comments in an attempt to get the kiddies to admit they’re somehow second best, that they don’t stack up to me, that no matter what they say, today is simply not as good as yesterday. I could do that, but here’s the issue – it only achieves one thing. It proves that I’m an asshole."
Here’s a fun fact for the Wu-Wear hoodie with jean shorts and vintage Dunks crowd. Age doesn’t automatically make you – or me – correct or place us in any type of position of authority. I was born in 1974, and because of that I got to walk into the store after watching Bo Jackson run Brian Bosworth over, buy a pair of his trainers, toss the box into the garbage can and then sprint home knocking down old people while screaming, ‘BO KNOWS!’ Guess what? That’s pure luck. I didn’t choose to be born back then – the same way nobody else gets to choose the year they’re born in. I don’t have the right to be a prick to you just because some of Nike’s better stuff came out when I was young. Nobody does. If you’re old and think being born before 1980 gives you some magical ‘sneakerhead credit’ then you need to stop it already.
Let’s bounce back to the ‘good old days’ and take it as far as possible time-wise – from the 80s to Niketalk days – and have a real honest chat about just how amazing it was. I was working chest and shoulders the day Nelly’s ‘Air Force Ones’ came on the radio in the gym. When it played two days later in the same place, I sang the shit out of that song. I owned Greedy Genius sneakers. My boy almost bought a pair of Yums. I was awarded a Purple Heart for bravery after putting on a pair of Fusion 12s I received as a birthday gift from my wife – and I lived to tell about it! There are certain people I opted to stay friends with who used to wear 5XL t-shirts with baggy jeans and Ice Creams on their feet. I could keep going, but it’s getting hard to type these things while gagging – so I’ll stop.
"If you’re old and think being born before 1980 gives you some magical ‘sneakerhead credit’ then you need to stop it already."
My point is, our generation wasn’t perfect. We had a billion eyesores as far as sneaker releases go, but a huge number of us looked at them as acceptable back then. Yet, a lot of the time we’re on social media trying to convince the kids that if it happened before 2004, it was God’s own work. It was perfect, nothing that came out was short of amazing. That ever since our best days ended, everything has been downhill.
That. Is. Complete. Bullshit.
To wrap it up, old guys need to think this through. Imagine if we had Twitter and Instagram back in the 90s. Let’s say it was attached to our Sony Sports Walkmans or Gameboys – whatever works. Consider how bad our childhood would’ve been if every single time we posted a picture of our brand new Air Maxes, polyester slacks-wearing old farts would’ve hit us with comments like, ‘You stupid kids have no idea, the last good leather they used on shoes was in 1950.’ Or, ‘Nice try, but I was wearing the original version of those when the Beatles played in London two decades ago. Loser!’ We’d have collectively lost our goddamn minds. 90 percent of our childhood memories would’ve been based on senseless, bitter arguments with irrelevant people saying irrelevant things because it makes them feel better about themselves in some pathetic way.
"Consider how bad our childhood would’ve been if every single time we posted a picture of our brand new Air Maxes, polyester slacks-wearing old farts would’ve hit us with comments like, ‘You stupid kids have no idea, the last good leather they used on shoes was in 1950.’"
Well, that’s exactly what some of us are doing. If you’re near the age of 40 and won’t shut the fuck up about Niketalk, Dunk leather in ’99, or how bad Yeezys are, then you are the worst aspect of sneakerhead culture right now. It’s 2017. Things are supposed to be different. Believe it or not, posting Yeezys paired with leather joggers to Instagram for likes has yet to cause cancer in infants. It’s not hurting anyone – just like we weren’t when we painted our Superstars to look like a graffiti-covered wall and rocked leather Africa medallions. Let the kids have their goddamn childhood.
If we’re talking about music instead of sneakers, it’s really easy to understand. Do I like Lil Uzi Vert? No. But the fact of the matter is, some 14-year-old kid is gonna lose his virginity to his high school sweetheart on a pile of dirty laundry in his basement to a soundtrack of Uzi ‘rapping’. And that song is going to mean a lot to him for the rest of his life, the same way certain shitty songs mean a lot to me. Sneakers are no different. We need to just let this generation of sneakerheads enjoy things.
And one last thought. If all you have to add at this point ain’t nothing but reasons why sneaker culture sucks in 2017, do us all a favour and stick to Myspace.