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- Peter - Wednesday, April 13th, 2005 : goo

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In Brooklyn, tradition dictates that when you get a new pair of shoes, you throw your old pair over the streetlight or powerlines on your corner:

image 693
image 694
image 695

This article has been viewed 42523 times in the last 11 years

fuzzytank: 10th Apr 2005 - 23:37 GMT

hehe so it seems that the reason I cant get it translated by any of the online sites is that pretty much every word is mispelled or slang, not so much that the sites dont like russian.

fuzzytank: 11th Apr 2005 - 00:58 GMT

that one almost worked with translation ;)
some of the words went a little strange

пожалуйста произношение по буквам все правильно так, котор я могу попытаться прочитать его, вы

elaine: 11th Apr 2005 - 16:25 GMT

I did wonder - the first time I saw the Russian was on my first posting - 'romantic seaview' and I was really nosey to know what was being said, till I looked at the website 'advertised'

Editor:: 11th Apr 2005 - 17:41 GMT

we are fixing the issue of off-topic russian comment-spam. please be patient, though im sure youve noticed it has decreased lately :)

elaine: 12th Apr 2005 - 10:02 GMT

It is my opinion that people are welcome to use slang and create counter culture, and attempt to place it where they see fit, to whatever response they then get. Actually, when I first saw all the Russian on Romantic Seaview I assumed it as relevant to the pictures. What actually pissed me off, and what continues to piss me off is the massive repeated advert for the website moronically repeated on the page

Jamie: 12th Apr 2005 - 10:07 GMT

i seriously doubt wheter any of the comments are relevant to their respective posts. i will deal with it.

elaine: 12th Apr 2005 - 11:20 GMT

it's a shame - I kind of liked the idea of a multi lingual yet relevant chatter, that seemed a good thing

Jamie: 12th Apr 2005 - 11:25 GMT

I agree it's a terrible shame to have to bow to any form of censorship, the russian onslaught of unintelligible banter was however intolerable. It wasn't in any way relevant, and they appear to have been playing some form of childish game, whereby the winner is the first person to post an inane comment on a given article. There's some really good photos been posted here from Russia though, and they are very welcome. Citynoise is not an American site, it's not British, European, or even Western. It's global and we want to keep it that way.

Elaine: Your photography rocks by the way :-)

Jamie: 13th Apr 2005 - 18:11 GMT

Oh... So thats what the deal is with the shoes. I've always wondered why, and now i know. Thankyou Peter.

Peter: 13th Apr 2005 - 18:15 GMT

no problemo, jamie :) i have tons of photos from my hood i took this past weekend... now that the site is working again, ill start posting em day by day...

elaine: 13th Apr 2005 - 19:45 GMT

thanks, jamie. Am loving the effervesence of this shoe thing - it has a proper air of celebration about it doesn't it?

hasslehoff: 14th Apr 2005 - 08:09 GMT

You'll never see a barefoot homeless person in Brooklyn. They're quite adept at climbing poles i wager.

Peter: 14th Apr 2005 - 13:17 GMT

theyre quite adept at stealing stereos fro mcars, also... which jsut happened to me recently. why someone would want a 15 year old stock volvo stereo (that wont even work outside of hte car it was installed in) is beyond me. methinks they sure like their crack.

hasslehoff: volvos rule

anon: 20th Apr 2005 - 05:12 GMT

Re: Shoes

I pass by those shoes almost everyday when I walk home from the library. It's lovely to see them immortalized like this.

zaid: Re:ithink all this shoes Shoes

jyk: 14th May 2005 - 18:42 GMT

there is a shoe tree in nevada it must have over 500 pairs of shoes on it. the shoe tree is in the middle of nowhere on u.s. 50, about 30-40 miles east of fallon nv.

from 14th May 2005 - 19:09 GMT

Legend: Old running shoes hanging from trees and power lines are 'gang signs.'

Origins: All across the United States, you'll encounter discarded shoes hanging from wires, poles, and trees. Theories as to what these shoes signify abound, but, contrary to what one hears, there's no one right answer.

Who put the shoes there and why? The list of explanations goes on. Suggestions include:

* It's the work of gangs marking the boundaries of their territory.

* Bullies take them off defenceless kids, then sling them up out of reach as the ultimate taunt.

* Gang members create an informal memorial at the spot where a friend lost his life.

* Crack dealers festoon wires to advertise their presence in the neighborhood.

* The shoes increase wire visibility for low-flying aircraft.

* Overly puffed-up boys who have just lost their virginity or otherwise passed a sexual milestone look to signal the event to others.

* Graduating seniors mark this transition in their lives by leaving something of themselves behind; namely, their shoes.

* Kids do it just because it's fun. And besides, what else are you going to do with a worn-out pair of sneakers other than tie the laces together and toss them high?

In the Southwest exists a similar practice, that of placing old, worn boots upside down on fence posts by the side of a road. Driving along, one passes upturned boot after upturned boot. Some people tell us these boots Sneakers are a way for a homeowner to indicate if he's gone to town for the day; on his way out, he stops where his driveway meets the road and adjusts the boot so its toe points outwards. When the toe is pointing towards the house, he's telling the world he's home. Others say it's just a boot-on-a-fencepost thing with no more rhyme or reason to it than there is to those sneakers hanging over telephone wires.

Members of the military have pointed to the practice of pitching an old pair of army boots over the wires when leaving a post as a possible origin for sneaker slinging. According to some, army boot pitching is a ritual performed upon completing basic training, according to others, the boots are tossed when a soldier leaves one post for another, and a final school of thought holds that boot pitching is properly done only when the service itself is being left. The boots are often painted yellow or orange prior to being festooned over a wire.

There's no one definitive answer as to why those shoes hang from telephone wires. Perhaps the answer lies within each of us, shoe-slinger and non-shoe-slinger alike. We are a determinedly decorative society. At Christmas and Halloween, on Easter and the 4th of July, many of us feel compelled to doll up houses, windows, and lawns with all manner of objects and lights. Some call this folk art. Others will tell you it has to do with the human need for self-expression.

Slinging shoes over a power line could be no more than us letting that side of ourselves run riot. Then again, the whole thing could be merely an invented tradition, with people doing it because they see others doing it.

Barbara "shoe fly" Mikkelson

Sightings: In the 1997 film Wag the Dog, Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman conspire to festoon tree after tree with shoes as a "spontaneous" show of homegrown support for their manufactured war hero Sgt. William Schumann (the "old shoe").

[ed: i would have posted a link to the site, but they have crappy pop-ups]

wardy: 29th May 2005 - 15:18 GMT

if they got red on dem dat means there is a crack dealer in the hood and if u see a dude wearing red marks on his kicks hes the dude

Odie: 8th Jun 2005 - 16:48 GMT

I think whoever hung all the shoes did a 100 percent job and keep up the good work! Odie... Boston, MA

Stacey: 8th Jun 2005 - 19:40 GMT

I remember doing this in Brooklyn when I was young. My brother (who is much older) told me that you would tell your mom that someone threw your sneakers on the pole so you could get a new pair.
In those days, you had to have holes in your sneakers before you got a new pair. Boy does my son have it easy :)

Windy city girl: 4th Aug 2005 - 05:52 GMT

When a gangmember gets beat up by a rival gan they take the dude shoes off and throw them up onto their territory --kind of like a trophy....

cee: 15th Sep 2005 - 18:36 GMT

i took a simmilar picture a few days ago a block away on Washington & Underhill:

cee: 15th Sep 2005 - 18:37 GMT

the link got pulled out of the last post -- here's the correct URL:

Peter: 18th Oct 2005 - 14:55 GMT

then, the city comes by, cuts down all the and tosses them into a nearby garbage can:

image 5684

matt ashe: 20th Oct 2005 - 21:16 GMT

here in ayer mass we have a ton of shoes on wires around here it means the area isnt safe

boston baller: 20th Oct 2005 - 21:21 GMT

the sneakers in boston are territory markers if you see to many one one line then you better know where you are.

Peter: 20th Oct 2005 - 22:57 GMT

totally, baller. cause when you see a buncha them on a line somewhere, that means... that youre in a place where the people throw their shoes over a line!

AK: 25th Feb 2006 - 21:29 GMT

Tomorrow i hang my shoes too . Its Funny And Gangsta Style

david: thay should have gave them to me

bk7rank: 20th Apr 2006 - 02:39 GMT

why do people in williamsburg think it's cool to do the same? they even toss up fake cardboard shoes... it can't be anything but neighborhood reappropriation.

Dave: 12th Jul 2006 - 18:09 GMT

That brings me back... I used to see sneakers hanging off phone lines quite often when I was a kid in Ridgewood (Queens) in the early '70s. Later on, I may have lofted a pair or two, myself ;)

Happy Grammie: 12th Jul 2006 - 19:09 GMT

You Americans really do some crazy things! Why not just give them to the Sally Ann, Goodwill, etc.

Peter: 12th Jul 2006 - 19:52 GMT

...because theyre usually worn out when you toss them.

jeeff: grammie, people in canada do this too.

ksedge: 1st Aug 2006 - 07:09 GMT

image 14080

we sure do! and apparently we leave our socks on the sidewalk too...

image 14081

mug: 16th Aug 2006 - 07:34 GMT

yes the shoes over the powerline thing really is an international phenomenon - there are two pairs of shoes hanging high in my street in brisbane, australia, at the moment and now i some ideas as to why...

procyon: 11th Oct 2006 - 01:01 GMT

the billboard in that first photo in ksedge's comment... it looks like the lady is about to have her shoes hoisted onto the wire while she is still in them.

baseballmomma: 24th Mar 2007 - 06:10 GMT

I live just outside of Nashville. In response to boston baller, youre right. Most of the time, when you see shoes on power lines, they are generally from gangs marking their territory or from drug dealers as a way of advertising that there is a dealer close by.

lisabetta: 7th Apr 2007 - 02:19 GMT

Out here in California, I don't recall ever seeing it (even in the REALLY bad areas like Compton or East Palo Alto) until after the movie "Wag the Dog" came out--and now thety're everywhere! Reality crime shows nowadays just LOOOOVE showing shots of shoes hanging from lines and trees when the crime takes place in a "bad" area (a la "48 hours" or "Cold Case Files").

iman: 7th Apr 2007 - 02:51 GMT

man, i heard that the whole deal with the shoes is when kids bully other kids, they take their shoes, and hang them on a wire, so they run barefoot and they can catch them easier. i don't really get that because they had to catch them anyway to get the shoes.

curiousgeorgio: 23rd May 2007 - 04:39 GMT

I dunno about that idea that there's a drug dealer near by. . . If you buy you'd already know and wouldn't need shoes to tell you. And if you weren't from there are they supposed to meet you at the shoes? cuz I don't have all day.... ;-P

anon ( 22nd Mar 2010 - 00:34 GMT

I have heard of this and know it to be the work of sneaker gnomes in red sweatshirts who do this to defy their verticle inadequacies.

anon ( 29th Jun 2010 - 06:23 GMT

I invented the sneakers hanging on poles. We started hanging them in the sixties on Houston Street on the Lower East Side of NYC.We only allowed Converse because they were the thing. Our sneakers were a source of pride and we found it hard to throw the old ones out; hanging them on the walls in our room; then the lamp post on the side of the project building where I grew up. Every few weeks, the maintenance man would get a ladder and take them down. One day I got the brainstorm to hang them where no one could get to them the high lamp post in front of 484 E. Houston St, between Ave. D and the FDR Drive NYC, not Brooklyn, baby. I was not only the originator of the idea, but the first to ever successfully hook a pair after two friends missed. Within weeks, there were sneakers on almost every pole, wire, or suspension anywhere. It was no gang thing just pride in the shoes that gave us game, mostly in basketball.Converse were $8 a pair and only in white and black. We dyed the whites in different colors, ourselves. I never got the credit for the idea but I remember the news taking pictures of this new phenomenon which I dreamed up for posterity. My name is Frank Mileti and my email is if you want the real deal on my sneaker invention.

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