Shoes that pop: Stomp, jum or moonwalk down memory lanes in these shoes

Michael Jackson.



Tom Hanks in “Forrest Gump.”



Boris Karloff in “Frankenstein.”



Judy Garland in “Wizard of Oz.”



Home! There truly is no place like it. So cozy!

Plus, friends — they’re really great. Just ... friendly. Also, courage: It’s a wonderful thing. Brains are good, too, and hearts, what with how they beat and feel stuff and all. Yep, hooray for home and brains and friends! They’re neat.

(There, is that enough acknowledgment of the Lofty Themes? Can we talk about the shoes now?)

Oh, those ruby slippers! Was ever there a more incandescent, Technicolor pair of shoes? They literally glowed, and millions of hearts beat just a little faster to see them. Tapped together three times, they took Dorothy Gale back to Kansas (which was black and white and lousy with tornadoes, but she still wanted to get there).

Though the actual 75th anniversary isn’t until Aug. 25, 2014, “The Wizard of Oz” fever is already in full bloom. Mesa Mall recently hosted a “Wizard of Oz” celebration, the Monday, Sept. 28, episode of “Cupcake Wars” on Food Network will have an Oz-themed challenge and for the three weeks that began Sunday, Sept. 20, McDonald’s is offering “The Wizard of Oz” Happy Meals.

Which is all fine, but let’s get back to those shoes. They were silver in L. Frank Baum’s book, but obviously we all can agree that red ones were a million times better. Those ruby slippers are just the ultimate shoes — beautiful, magical, capable of zapping witches.

And they bring to mind other memorable shoes in pop culture — the ones that become so much more than mere foot covering. Let’s consider a few:

Glass slippers

Who wore them: Cinderella.

Where they were worn: To the most glorious ball in all the land and, more memorably, at the end of a trying road of lies, deception and stepmothers. When the prince kneels and slips what appears to be a child’s size 5 slipper onto Cinderella’s working-class foot? Perfection.

Why they’re amazing: They’re made of glass! Which, OK, would be crazy uncomfortable and fairly dangerous, but why let reality get in the way of perception?

Blue suede shoes

Who wore them: Elvis (sorry, Carl Perkins, you wore them first, but come on: Elvis).

Where they were worn: During a major butt-kicking, apparently: “Well, you can knock me down, step in my face, slander my name all over the place.” And also during a crime spree: “Well, you can burn my house, steal my car, drink my liquor from an old fruit jar. Do anything that you want to do, but uh-uh, honey, lay off of my shoes.”

Why they’re amazing: Elvis. That is all.

 

Boots made for walkin’

Who wore them: Nancy Sinatra.

Where they were worn: On a lumpy, squishy walk over a road paved with cheatin’, no-good men. And possibly on the way to commit metaphorical arson: “You keep thinkin’ that you’ll never get burned. Ah, I’ve just found me a brand new box of matches, yeah, and what he knows you ain’t had time to learn.”

Why they’re amazing: As anyone who’s ever worn a pair knows, there’s just something about a fabulous pair of boots that allows you to turn on a righteous heel and flounce away while knowing that your legs look fantastic.

 

The red shoes

Who wore them: A vain girl named Karen who, remembering a sad pair of red shoes she had when she was an orphan, tricks her adoptive mother into buying a fancy new pair of red shoes for her.

Where they were worn: At church, to everyone’s abiding horror, and then across field and dale, through briar and bramble, in rain and snow, because Karen couldn’t stop dancing after a mysterious soldier put a curse on her or something.

Why they’re amazing: Because Karen asks an executioner to cut her feet off so she can stop dancing! And at the end of the story her heart explodes! Good grief, Hans Christian Andersen was an old spook. He probably needed one of those full-spectrum lamps used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder.

 

Penny loafers

Who wore them: Michael Jackson.

Where they were worn: At the Motown 25th anniversary celebration, during which Jackson performed “Billie Jean.” Except, he didn’t so much “perform” as “drop an H-bomb.” And he was wearing sparkly socks, too!

Why they’re amazing: Holy Toledo, that man could dance! And when he moonwalked? Incendiary. Penny loafers just seemed like the perfect shoes for it.

 

Air Jordans

Who wore them: Michael Jordan, and a legion of would-be basketball superstars who wanted to be like Mike.

Where they were worn: On the court during NBA finals games, on a million playgrounds, during robberies (remember when people got robbed for these shoes?), in the commercials with Spike Lee as Mars Blackmon: “Air Jordan, Air Jordan, Air Jordan.”

Why they’re amazing: It’s encapsulated by the logo, with Michael Jordan in mid-flight, heading into orbit. Do the shoes make you a better basketball player? Not really. But they sure sowed a universe of dreams.

 

Old brown shoe

Who wore it: George Harrison, because he wrote the song, but maybe all the Beatles took turns wearing it?

Where it was worn: Escaping from the zoo, in line for his lady’s sweet top lip and, one would hope, on excursions to look for the other shoe.

Why it’s amazing: Just one, George? What happened to the other shoe? And sure, it’s a love song, but any sensible woman is going to think twice about a man who shows up missing a shoe.

 

Boots

Who wore them: Frankenstein’s monster.

Where they were worn: Village. Stomp. Aargh.

Why they’re amazing: Big. Smash. Sad.

 

Manolo Blahniks

Who wore them: Carrie Bradshaw.

Where they were worn: All over the magical land that is New York City, where a gal can write a weekly sex column (“Sex and the City”) for a tabloid and afford $500 shoes.

Why they’re amazing: The aforementioned $500-shoes-writer’s-salary parallax. Plus, that level of reverence for inanimate objects is usually reserved for rituals that culminate in human sacrifice. Can we nominate Samantha?

 

Black Chuck Taylor All-Star high tops

Who wore them: Jimmy Chitwood.

Where they were worn: Through the games of Hickory High School’s winning 1952 season, and then at the state finals against South Bend Central in Indianapolis. That was one heck of a game. (And OK, fine. This is about the movie “Hoosiers,” so it may not be real per se, but still: Jimmy Chitwood.)

Why they’re amazing: “I’ll make it,” three seconds left, corner shot, Hickory’s David defeats South Bend’s Goliath. And anyone with a beating heart weeps a few ecstatic tears.

 

Khrushchev’s shoe

Who wore it: Nikita Khrushchev.

Where it was worn: Or not worn, rather. The details are fuzzy, accounts vary and it may never have even happened. But legend has it that at an Oct. 13, 1960, meeting at the United Nations, in response to a delegate from the Philippines accusing the USSR of “swallowing up” Eastern Europe, Khrushchev either brandished his shoe or banged it on a table.

Why it’s amazing: Talk about dramatic effect! Today’s politicians could take a lesson in hyperbole and showmanship. Why do the point-and-wave, or the mealy thumbs-up, when you could whip off a shoe and make a real statement?

 

White and red Nikes

Who wore them: Forrest Gump.

Where they were worn: Everywhere — running back and forth across America, waiting for a bus, investing wisely, weeping over poor dead Jenny. These are utilitarian shoes.

Why they’re amazing: If life is, indeed, like a box of chocolates, then shoes are the shiny, crinkly, promising wrapper.


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