Revenge of a Shoe Nerd

“Where do I buy the Nike shoes?”
-Tom Hanks as Victor Navorski, The Terminal

Hello. My name is Mike the Eyeguy, and I am a shoe nerd.

There, I said it, it’s out in the open now. I no longer have to hide the fact that ever since I was a bushy-haired boy growing up in the 1970s, I’ve been obsessed with athletic shoes of all brands, colors and sports. I’ve worn just about all of them at one time or another: Keds, PF Flyers (remember how they made you run faster and jump higher?), Converse All Star Chuck Taylor canvas high tops (black, red and sky blue–back before I knew that color was associated with the evil Tar Heels), Puma “Suedes” (often referred to as “Clydes” after Walt Frazier, famous point guard for the N.Y. Knicks), New Balance 320s and the Adidas Superstar.

But one shoe had managed to elude my grasp all these years–that is, until now.

101_0367.JPGDuring my 70s coming-of-age phase, for some reason (probably insufficient funds) I never purchased the quintessential American athletic shoe, the sine qua non of every sneaker aficionado’s collection–The Nike Cortez. Well, as you can see from the picture, that deficiency has been remedied. I am now the proud owner of a pair of basic black and white classic Cortezes, so retro that I start humming the theme from the Brady Bunch and looking around for some bell bottoms to wear every time I put them on. Dang, I wish I hadn’t thrown away that last pair.

For you history buffs, the Cortez was the first running shoe designed by legendary University of Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman. Bowerman introduced the Cortez in 1967 in the pre-Swoosh days when the company he founded with one of his former runners, Phil Knight, was known merely as Blue Ribbon Sports. The Cortez has remained an iconic model for Nike through the years, and it is the current favorite with L.A. street gangs and waddling, middle-aged, formerly fast runners who finally have two nickles to rub together and spend as they please.

Bowerman went on to create an even more famous running shoe, but that’s the subject for another day. I’ve been told by Number Three Son (who, by the way, has inherited the shoe nerd gene) that my new wheels make me look “pretty fly for a white guy.” I had to pull out my Gangsta to English dictionary for that one, and I’m pleased to report that was a compliment–I think.

That’s ok, go ahead and grab a few jollies at my expense. I bet if I dug deeply enough into your past (or maybe even present), I would uncover a trendy obsession or two as well. The confession booth is open.

Yes, I am a shoe nerd and proud of it! And forget what all those do-gooders say. I’m here to tell you that revenge is sweet; sweeter than the sight of pristine, unstained leather and the smell of a virgin insole, fresh out of the box.


UPDATE: Be sure to check in tomorrow for an Ocular Fusion special–a contest with a very nice prize.

I know shoes, do you?

  1. Jeff Slater

    I don’t remember the Cortez, but I do remember the Nike Waffle Trainer. When I ran Cross Country in high school, everyone on the team had a pair — everyone except me. My parents thought they were too expensive. I would love to have a pair of those blue and gold beauties today.

    I am forever in search of the perfect running shoe…..

  2. DAVID u

    I remember wanting a pair of PF Flyers SO bad when I was a kid. Never happened. I did have some cool Keds, though. The kind that looked like they were for wearing on a boat. I never will forget the first pair of Puma rubber baseball cleats I got. I think they were actually soccer shoes. Circa 1968 or 69. I thought I had literally died and gone to HEAVEN! Then in West Africa, somehow we got Adidas and Puma shoes cheaper over there. I had a pair of Adidas tennis/running shoes that I could NOT wear out…….honest. In High School, our basketball team wore Chuck Taylor suede All-Stars……BLUE SUEDE! 🙂 We thought we were cool……but those things stunk to the high-heavens. I have had several pair of Nike’s, but I am not a big Nike fan. I love Asics and New Balance. Ok, gotta say……my all time favorite shoe is (drum roll)………..Puma. Adidas would be a close second.

    Thanks for bringing back all kinds of nostalgia!

  3. Mike the Eyeguy

    Ah, a fellow shoe nerd–and I thought I was all alone!

    Don’t you wish you had kept all those shoes? I hear the Japanese pay top dollar for classic models, even dirty, stinky ones.

    Next time I’m in Searcy, we’ve got to get together and talk shoes my friend.

    DU, you’re a “Sole Man!”

  4. Brady

    I am NOT a shoe nerd. There, I’ve said it. I wore work boots to elementary school and thought that was chique because they gave me a slight advantage in kickball.
    I am looking for a new pair of running shoes now. The ones I have are about dead, and everyone knows that new shoes make you run faster.
    Enjoy the new look, Mike, the fly guy.

  5. Mike the Eyeguy


    I think I played a game of soccer in 9th grade against a guy who was wearing work boots–worst jammed toe I ever had. In fact, I think it might have been broken, but we didn’t go to the ER back in those days for something that minor.

    In the market for running shoes, eh? These days I’m partial to the Nike Structure Triax–reasonably priced, good-looking and a nice blend of cushioning and support.

    No, I don’t run in the Cortezes. Those are for kicking back and redlining the Street Cred-O-Meter.

  6. Mike the Eyeguy


    That first comment of yours got hung up in “moderation purgatory”-sorry! I couldn’t figure out yesterday why comments weren’t showing up. Then suddenly I realized the word “shoe” was on the “no-no” list. I took it off, but that was after you left your comment and for some reason I didn’t see yours in the hopper.

    Oh well, if it had shown up, then the whole contest thing might have been a moot issue! I had the Waffle Trainer–it took a lot of lawn mowings to earn those puppies.

  7. beija

    hey where did u get them at im tryin to get some

  8. Mike the Eyeguy


    Try clicking here.

  9. nikelist1

    Do you like NBA,do you want to have a pair of shoes look like the stars.Choose our products, you can achieve your dream.

  10. James

    Fantastic! I was Googling for a pic to tell a story at work and there they were the shoes that changed my life. And not because I actually owned a pair but because my cheap Mom would not buy me the real ones. I wanted them sooooo bad and she bought me the CHEAP Payless version in like vinal or plastic or whatever they were. They were terrible. Now I will never buy a non-leather shoe again. Great blog thanks very much for the good laugh.

  11. Mike the Eyeguy

    You’re welcome, James. And I hope you finally got that pair of bona fide Cortezes.

  12. Kevin

    The Nike Cortez shoe has made the “test of time” by never changing the design or the material from either hard leather or Nylon from the beginning when I was in high school this was, and still is, after over 35 years my favorite (Classic) running shoe.

  13. Plastic Holder

    you can always trust those high tech running shoes developed by adidas or nike, they are expensive but they are very good “~:

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