April 21, 2008

Portland being Portland, it’s not unusual to see pairs of shoes dangling from overhead wires. I imagine the fun some jokers had flinging footwear in the air until one of them got lucky. Somewhere in Northeast, where I live, I once saw high-heels similarly perched above the middle of a street, string looped around the heels.

Dangling shoes probably represent a secret code that I’m not hip to. . . an anarchist cabal’s communiques or a notice that on this block the really cool people reside.

Thinking about this prompted me to Google the expression “shoes dangling from wires.” I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that a global shoe-dangling fixation appears to be spreading. Theories abound, as do of photos showing the creativity of this “art.” My favorite pictures are here and here. And, naturally, there’s a buzz word — shoefiti— and a web site by that name, featuring everything anyone would possibly want to know about the practice.

But what’s the meaning of a pair of black Converse All-Stars abandoned on a sidewalk along busy Northeast Broadway? A few days ago the shoes were positioned on either side of a metal pole, as if the wearer had been hugging it. When I came back with my camera, the shoes were gone.