Southern Violence

Mayhem broke out last week at a suburban Atlanta shopping mall as customers lost control of their senses when the new Nike Air Jordan basketball shoes went on sale.

When I say lost control, I mean children were abandoned by their mothers, the lesser were trampled by the greater, skirmishes broke out – basically a complete lack of civility and sanity. Atlanta was not just an isolated incident. Shoppers across the nation broke into fisticuffs and were stabbed or manhandled. Police had to apply generous portions of pepper spray to restore order, and several patrons missed the sale because their behavior resulted in them being “cuffed and stuffed” for their less than polite line etiquette.

Keep in mind, these people were not queuing up to buy front row Super Bowl tickets. They were there waiting for the opportunity to pay a princely sum for a pair for Chinese made sneakers whose only claim to fame is that they are endorsed by the basketball superstar Michael Jordan.

As best as I can tell, these shoes have no particular magic powers that can give the wearer extraordinary basketball skills. If you were to click your heels together while wearing your fresh Air Jordans, you would just end up looking like a moron as you waited to be transported back home from the land of Oz. (Come to think of it, any person of average height could become a basketball god in a land full of three-foot Munchkins. Probably get a sweet endorsement deal in the process.)

As a point of reference, my personal shoe inventory consists of a few pair of American made dress shoes (hard to find these days,) a pair of American made Red Wing work boots, and several pair of Chinese made Merrell casual shoes.

Call me old-fashioned, but I consider shoes a practical necessity. They need to keep my feet warm in the winter, dry in the summer and be a suitable coverup so I do not expose my hairy toes to children and other sensitive people. Shoes should be comfortable, appropriate for the occasion, and a good value.

I wear my Merrells almost every day and they are indeed comfortable, durable and stylish. (Some may disagree with the stylish part, but I think they are quite contemporary.) The best part is, my Merrells cost me a fraction of the price of a pair of Air Jordans, I didn’t have to wait in line to buy them, and no one had to get pepper sprayed or go to jail just to complete the sale. Oh, and my family was in good hands while I made my purchase.

Don’t get me wrong. Nike makes high quality shoes and the company is completely within its rights to charge whatever price the market will bear. What confuses me to no end are the antics displayed by Air Jordon customers whenever a significant new model is released. While they are completely free to spend their money as they see fit, just don’t go nuts in the process.

Air Jordan customers should take a cue from the Apple fans who will wait peacefully in line while camped out for days waiting for the latest and greatest iphone/ipad/i-don’t-care product to be unveiled so they may spend their parent’s money/spouses nest egg/children’s college fund on the latest and greatest.

Having closely studied the situation, I have come up with a completely unscientific theory as to why Air Jordan customers riot while Apple customers remain placid: A new installment of the Air Jordan franchise comes out once a month. Updated Apple products are released only twice a year or so.

The sneaker crowd spends way too much time together.

Copyright © 2011 by Doug Couch. All Rights Reserved.  Photo by achimh via his Flickr photostream, used with Creative Commons 2.0 License.
Doug Couch

Doug Couch

I like to tell folks that I was born in Georgia because I wanted to be close to my mother. I feel blessed to have been born and raised in the deep South where we have the best food, the best college football, and rich traditions. I got my sense of humor from my father and my proclivity for writing from my mother, an author of children's books. I enjoy writing about the funny side of life in the South and I am not above a bit of irreverence as long as it doesn't perpetuate negative Southern stereotypes. We Southerners enjoy a good story, and I remain determined to write one some day.

I have been in and out of the newspaper business since my early college days while following a parallel career in information technology. I am a big fan of Atlanta Falcons football, BBQ, Maker's Mark, all forms of automobile racing, flying (private, not commercial) and shooting sports.

Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously. ― Hunter S. Thompson

  1. Frank Povah

    And so say all of us – well the ones who think about stuff, anyway.

  2. Somewhere in this phrase is the key to this barbarism … “looking like a moron as you waited to be transported back home from the land of Oz.” 

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