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20 2022 June
Author: Spiff
The Things I've Learned from The City

Now that confessional narration is very fashionable, I will tell you some things that I have learned from The City:

  1. Sky-high prices. This is inflation and the rest is nonsense.
  2. I still like Sour Patch Kids. A lot.
  3. Due, streetstyle is cool, relax a little, you're 34.

It had been 6 years since my feet hit up and down the avenues. Too long a time, I needed to go back, because, as Lagerfeld said, “while other places tend to remain stagnant, New York always continues to evolve.” He was right. He was a visionary, he knew that The City was, is and will be the most influential. And although its influence is so powerful, what it awakens the most in yours truly is nostalgia –sometimes lost in the day-to-day routine- of the things that I liked and continue to like. All the things that I have lived through the screen these 34 years. Walking through its streets is the dream come true of the movie buff, but also of the music lover, and of those who like basketball, or urban art, or architecture. Paraphrasing another genius, Le Corbusier, “I have thought a hundred times that New York is a catastrophe, and 50 times that it is a beautiful catastrophe." Because New York is like when you went to the zoo when you were little and you were spellbound looking at the tigers, or the penguins, or the bears. New York is a kind of fascinating zoo that awakens interest even in those who almost seem to have interest in nothing.

Remember Michael Jordan scoring 63 points against the Celtics? It was '86 and I hadn't even been born, but I've seen those images repeated so many times... The guy levitating amid the shouting. And he wasn't even a Jedi. In conclusion, we all wanted to be like him. Have his shirt, his pants and of course, his sneakers. Some Nikes to match his clothing – red, white and black – which he would call the Air Jordan 1.

Two years later I was born. I don't know when exactly was the first time I saw Michael, but he was my first idol. After my parents, of course. It was of them that I would ask for one of those pairs of magnificent Jordans with which I could rise in space without the intervention of an external physical agent. My parents, in order to satisfy that insufferable brat, bought them. As they would do later with the Nike Air Max 2 CB by the “fat” Barkley. What shoes…I was 6 years old and was without a doubt the coolest guy in the whole school. And not just the school, but all of Madrid, all of Spain.

nike air max 2 cb

Nike Air Max 2 CB

But my mother began to worry. “You are only 6 years old son, this cannot continue like this”. And she wasn't wrong, the situation ran the risk of becoming unsustainable, of falling into an abyss of materialism, consumerism and all the other isms… even cys, like idiocy. But, without wanting to name names, there was one thing that differentiated me from the idiotic, capricious, and pampered kid; I took care of those shoes as if they were treasures, avoiding staining them, passing my fingers wet with saliva over the toe to clean them, changing the laces when they seemed to have no more useful life. I learned to give value to things, to gifts, to the sacrifice that my parents made every time they spent that money on me. It wouldn't have been bad to have taken care of them until today. In this case, it would be possible to sell them and return that money to my parents multiplied by 100. Although to be honest, I doubt very much that I would sell them. Yes, let's say I have some kind of disorder that prevents me from getting rid of material goods. I don't think it's serious, not to the point of calling it Diogenes, but maybe I should still talk to a specialist. The attachment for things that on principle could be insubstantial in the eyes of any human, but not in me. You bought that shirt on your end-of-year trip, how are you going to throw it away?...

The idols and the objects linked to them continued. Ronaldo Nazario dribbling past all of Compostela with his Nike Tiempos and celebrating his goal with airplane wings. That ad by the Oregonian company set to the rhythm by the King of Rock and with Eric Cantona as the conductor from the stand; Ronaldinho, Davids, Nakata, Del Piero, Thuram, Denilson… It was so good we all wish he was real. I bought that shirt and for the first time I let my hair grow for the sole purpose of looking like him, Francesco Totti. I even had the audacity to get one of those hair bands that Crepo, Cannavaro, Maldini and Totti himself wore. A tacky look that was synonymous with talent. The rivals already knew that Number 7 was dangerous. Batistuta, they called me.

Alessandro Del Piero and Ronaldo Nazario, 1997.

Lleyton Hewitt, 1998

From there, to tennis. First Agassi and then Hewitt. The American was my favorite. Always. His Head Radicals, his head without a wig, his nervousness… My father, who also played tennis, was more of a Sampras guy, but I wasn't, no matter how good the Marylander was; he was bland compared to André. There will never be anyone like André again. Lleyton approached him. we are talking about cool guys, and believe me, we already know that Roger and Rafa have to be fed separately.

As I was saying, the Australian replaced the American. I was obsessed with that backwards cap that the tennis player wore in his boom years; closed in the back and in black by Nike. Many years looking for it without success.

If you have come this far - I thank you, it is not easy to read the nostalgic feelings of this charlatan - surely you do not understand anything. You won't understand what the hell everything I've told you has to do with New York.

They say that reason seeks and the heart finds. Walking around New York and discovering some of the fashion brands up close has done nothing but reconnect with my childhood and adolescence. Remind myself that there was a time when I did let myself be carried away by the establishment, but not just any establishment, one led by a band of icons, of idols. Sometimes the icon was the guy who hit three-pointers like it was nothing, other times your older brother, your cousin, your father...

I'll confess something: in my teens, I used to fall in love a lot. A girl who passed by and smiled at me was a girl I fell in love with. I liked that because each one of those girls seemed to be the girl of my life. And something similar happened to me with objects and idols. It was not the same of course, but the analysis of now did not exist. In the age of immediacy one can seldom have illusions about someone, rarely does an idol emerge for you to try to imitate. Not before. What entered your eyes was definitive.

Sometimes we do not realize that many of our actions -those of now-, are conditioned by a history of the past. Stories in which we hardly notice rationally and that nevertheless mark us. My childhood marked me. For the better. I remember it with tremendous happiness. Delving into memory and recovering moments, anecdotes, characters, relatives and objects... is a necessary exercise to know what really is inside each one of us.

Walking around Downtown and seeing all those sneakers that I had for years and realizing that there is a certain romanticism in that culture that has developed around them has turned out to be super rewarding and inspiring. It has made me think that there is room for trends, even among those of us who wave the flag of menswear and timeless garments with high pride. We shouldn't stop playing. No matter how many years we rack up, one should never lose their memories. Keep feeling young. Put on some slippers from time to time; or some Timberland nautical shoes like when you were a teenager; or a plastic and fluorescent Swatch... Even if none of these things match absolutely anything with what you wear, what difference does it make? They are the shoes that you also wore when you were a child and dreamed of being an NBA player. They are the shoes you wore when you had your first kiss. It's the first watch you owned. All of this is much more important than any protocol or rule of how to dress at 30, 50 or 60 years old.

I'm not telling you to go out dressed as Justin Bieber. Or maybe I am. In reality, who am I to tell you what you should or shouldn't wear? The way everyone dresses should denote their own personality, and if someone wants to wear Jordans with a jacket, why shouldn't they?

Don Draper commented that “in Greek, “nostalgia” literally means “the pain of an old wound”. It is a pang in your heart, much more powerful than memory alone. This device is not a spaceship, it is a time machine. It goes back and forth, it takes us to a place where we long to return.”

New York is that spaceship, my particular time machine. Thank you.

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