In my entire life I’ve only ever really lusted after two material items. Well, three, technically. Funny thing is, they were both sort of related.
One was a transistor radio. I dreamed, both sleeping and awake, about owning one for a good six months when I was eight years old. I was certain my notoriously penny-pinching mom would never get me one for Christmas but that didn’t stop me from haranguing her from September on in 1964. And on Christmas Eve when I finally opened the little package that I had no idea would indeed be a Sears Silvertone transistor radio, I let out a shriek equal to any emitted by teenaged girls at a Beatles concert.
Which brings me to item No. 2: I wanted a pair of Beatle boots. Good god in heaven, they were the coolest shoes ever designed. Pointy toes. Cuban heels. No laces, only that very neat insert of elastic at the side. The Beatles were cool, sure, but their feet were transcendently cool because they were encased in those works of art.
Just saying the words brings back the old covetous feeling. I wanted…, no, I needed them.
Naturally, the nuns at St. Giles Catholic school made an announcement early on during Beatlemania that Beatle boots — as well as Beatle haircuts — would be forbidden. Oh, how I wanted those boots more than ever after that.
The very sound of Beatle boots — a smart click-click that echoed through the halls — was intoxicating. My stupid soft-soled and -heeled shoes sounded like, well, nothing.
Some of the cooler guys at St. Giles got around the Beatle boots ban by wearing what we called “Dago shoes.” By the way, the cooler guys at St. Giles invariably were the Italians from the Galewood neighborhood of Chicago. The Irish kids from Oak Park wore plaid shirts and corduroy trousers.
Trousers. Hehe. The losers.
The cool kids wore skin-tight, knifelike-creased slacks. I would have cut off a finger or two to dress like the cool kids, many of whom were the scions of mid-level Outfit guys. Their daddy-os might have been vicious mobsters but their style sense was impeccable.
I had my priorities as I approached adolescence.
Anyway, Dago shoes. They, too, had pointy toes and Cuban heels but they were lace-ups. And the laces were the skinny, round, shiny kind, not the flat, black cloth, sensible variety that the Irish Oak Parkers wore. Again, the losers.
I remember one of the coolest kids being yanked out of line by one of the tough-guy nuns because he was wearing Dago shoes. “But S’ter,” he protested, “these aren’t Beatle boots!”
This legal hair-splitting clearly forced the nuns to re-strategize. That afternoon when Sister James Mary, the principal, made her end-of-day announcements over the PA, she said, her voice dripping with annoyance, “And from now on, there will be no more wearing of ‘Dago shoes.'” Then she added, speaking slowly and distinctly, “No pointed toes and no Cuban heels.”
We all tittered and giggled over the fact that she’d said Dago.
Sister Caelin barked, “Quiet!”
Dago shoes with Cuban heels. It was like a social studies and geography lesson rolled into one.
Back to Beatle boots — just look at this still from the Beatles’ film A Hard Day’s Night:
How kicky, in the parlance of the times. Wearing their signature footwear, the boys appear to be running on air, levitating, like the demi-gods they were. How I wished I could levitate like a demi-god.
Today, of course, I wear the clunkiest, roundest-toe, softest-soled shoes in all of creation. Adulthood, man. It beats a kid’s dreams down.
Money (That’s What Pols Need)
Joe Crawford’s News Dept. at WFHB reported yesterday that John Hamilton scooted out to Washington, DC for a fundraiser at some snazzy restaurant in our nation’s capital.
Hamilton’s been crowing that he won’t take a dime of “corporate money” ever since he declared himself a candidate for Bloomington mayor in this year’s election.
[BTW: Early voting has begun. Go do it now!]
Yet, his DC fundraiser featured at least two big bucks lobbyists. Okay, sure, as Hamilton himself says, the lobbyists’ dough is not the same as corporate green. He points out that the lobbyists work for good, wholesome, “progressive” operations not, I imagine, big, mean old companies that profit off the raping of the planet.
Still, it’s checkbook democracy. Hamilton’s not a villain here; it’s the entire Citizens United political racket that’s corrupt.
Anyway, give a listen to the WFHB report.
Money (That’s What I Want)