JustClik News and Blogs

Views, news and features about the Goulburn Valley. Showcasing a variety of local writers and their views.

From Wartime Cairo to Mainstream Cool

THE CLARK SHOE COMPANY BOARD THOUGHT "DESERT BOOTS" WOULD NEVER SELL AND RIDICULED THE SHOE CONCEPT AS "BROTHEL CREEPERS."

While stationed in Burma in 1949, British Army officer Nathan Clark noticed many off-duty officers wearing simple suede boots with plantation rubber crepe soles.

This was his inspiration for the "Desert Boot". Clark learned the boots had come from a bazaar in Cairo. The officers, looking for a comfortable option that could survive the harsh desert conditions had them specially made by locals.

Clark began cutting prototype patterns out of newspapers. He sent the clipping along with drawings back home to the village of Street, in Somerset. He was convinced a version of this boot could be a new signature model for his family's shoe business.

Ironically, the shoemaker's board had  determined the shoe "Would never sell."  (in those days, men's suede shoes were commonly ridiculed as ''brothel creepers''). Undeterred Clark persevered.

On his return to England, Clark sourced the finest materials and shoemakers to transform his idea into reality. Using an existing last from a popular Clarks sandal, he began to experiment. He incorporated the stitch-down construction used in other Clarks styles but used an orange thread to further distinguish the boot. Additionally, at a time when most men’s shoes were made from stiff, formal leather, Nathan opted for beige suede from the nearby tannery, Charles F. Stead. The colour of the suede closely resembled sand – subtly referencing the boot’s desert origins.

One year, 1949, after its debut at the Chicago shoe fair, the Clark's Desert Boot, designed by Nathan Clark went on sale.

It took another 15 years for the boots to make it to Europe. Clark recalled with satisfaction seeing television footage of Paris student unrest in 1968 ''where the students manning the barricades were all wearing Desert Boots''.

The simple design of the Clarks Desert Boot - with plantation rubber crepe soles and just two eyelets for laces - has remained virtually unchanged. Since the 1960s, when they became mainstream fashion wear, they have been a perennial favourite. More than 12 million pairs have been sold worldwide.

The spread of the shoe was dramatic. In coming years, it became a cornerstone of everything from teddy boy pomp and Euro-chic to 60s flamboyance (Mods), Cool Britannia and 21st-century swagger.

Across the world, revolutionaries, artists and original thinkers adopted the Desert Boot as part of their style uniform. The simple silhouette became legend.

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Hendrix once lived (next to) the Spirit of a Classical Genius

During a sojourn in the streets of London, I discovered that Jimi Hendrix once lived next door to the former home of classical genius Handel.

Hendrix was so taken by the story that he started listening to Handel's music.

After discovering his long departed musical neighbour, Jimi went out to buy the full set of Handel’s work on vinyl (his favourite record shops being the One Stop Music Shop on South Molton Street, and Oxford Street’s HMV) and according to some musical experts, it is possible to spot Handel-like influences in Hendrix’s work…

One story I heard was that Hendrix's girlfriend had opened to door to knocking and was asked by the visitors "Is this the home of the famous musician." Of course, she said "Yes!" What they were really seeking was the former home of Handel.

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A Voice in the Wilderness

A Voice in the Wilderness

In the tradition of the great Charles Dickens, I present to you a tale of two television shows.
 
I'm watching The Voice Australia season 5, and although I am well versed in the ways of modern television vis-a-vis self promotion and cross promotion, I still find it irritating to have to endure the 'coming up after the break' previews, and the 'before the break' reviews. At the beginning of the show, there's a recap and a preview and then a review and a preview at the end of the show. It's hugely repetitive, and for people like me who watch it all rather than dipping in and out, it's maddening. In my opinion, it minimizes a lot of the potential drama, and diminishes interest and excitement.
 
Classic case this week. All the advertising for the upcoming blind auditions on The Voice featured a dramatic moment when a singer collapsed on stage. Every single promo, both during the program and between episodes, showed her falling down. I had seen her fall down 47 times before I actually saw her full audition. There was no shock or surprise, no drama at all really. Had I seen it not knowing what was coming I would have been stunned, as were the coaches and the live audience, but I was only relieved that I would not have to see it anymore. Not for a while anyway.
 
I was reminded of a time I was watching The Footy Show (NRL). They held an arm wrestling competition which featured some current and ex players. Ben Ross and Wendell Sailor met in the final, and during the struggle, on live television, Sailor broke Ross's arm. The audience fell silent, horrified, as were the show's hosts and the television audience. Producers quickly cut to a break. I could not believe my eyes.
 
No one knew that was going to happen. It was an incredible and horrific moment. I've seen the accident a number of times since, and each time it has less impact, as was the situation with the Iranian singer who collapsed. I was ready for it, and she was perfectly fine not long after her fall, which I knew was the case as well because if she wasn't, we would have heard about it. The event was pre-recorded and as I said, I had seen her crumple on to the stage 47 times already.
 
I think the way shows like The Voice is produced and presented to us as viewers, as consumers, says something quite poignant about us as people. What do you think?

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A Proper Kid!

A Proper Kid!

This is my mature me self-reflecting on the how things must be difficult for children and teens today — to be proper kids.

Maybe it's peer pressure? Certainly some of the challenges kids face are directly related to media focus on fame. What does Johnny want to be? These days it is common to hear a response such as I want to be famous. The traditional doctor, soldier, fireman, teacher, even astronaut answers can be lacking.

Rewind 40 years. I was playing footy in the streets in the Winter until dusk. When it was dark, it was time for dinner. In the Summer, we played cricket in the streets. And when we weren't playing sports we'd adventure into the local orchards and channels. Yabbying, swimming and just enjoying each other's company.

We kept safe; we looked after each other. Sure we were testing limits at times, but that is part of growing up.

We even built a clubhouse with a skull and crossbones flag, marked with letters G.R.O.G (Get Rid of Girls). Think "The Goonies" and you have the picture of my childhood.

These days it's a rarity to see kids playing in the streets. Digital screens seem to soak up a lot of their time. Smartphones, iPads, computers are all useful things — but seriously; some moderation, please.

Then there's the consumerism. A lot of kids, particularly teens, get sucked into the fairy floss of brands. I know teens who will not be seen dead in something from Target or Woolworths. It has to be a brand like Nike or Adidas.

No hand-me-downs, no St Vincent de Paul seconds and definitely no High street brands.

In my time, a pair of new Levis jeans, complete with zippered fob pocket was worthy of "show and tell."

Sadly, I'm beginning to paint a picture of "plastic" kids whose connection to the outdoor world is limited. This disconnect I believe is a dangerous thing. Yes I'm generalising and there are still the exceptions but most of the today's generation are soft.

My teen years were pretty straightforward too. Going to the record shop or the movie theatre was a real treat. Sport still kept me entertained when I wasn't studying. The structure and its simplicity to this day holds me in good stead.

Geelong Grammar has long had a school policy of encouraging some old-fashioned discipline in Year 9. Arriving at Timbertop, in the wilds near Mansfield, the teens are stripped of all technology and find themselves in a "sink or swim" environment. Chop their wood, cook their meals, clean up after themselves. Loads of extracurricular activities like bushcraft and survival skills. In a way, like a para-military style of training of our youth.

Talk to any ex-grammar student and they will say "Timbertop" was the best year. Kids need discipline and structure, they often just don't understand it's good for them.

Not every family can afford an "outward bound" style experience, but there are ways to encourage kids and teens to get outdoors. Sports and recreation in the fresh air are affordable ways to supplement their modern inclinations.

Volunteering is a good way for young people to learn from adults. I was fortunate enough to be in the company of a proper kid and his mum on the weekend. Without complaint, he spent the day helping his mum in a fundraising activity. He was like a sponge, soaking up as much as he could from the events and people around him.

A proper kid who is lucky enough to have a strong, good mum.

 

 


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That's Amore

That's Amore

“I am in love and there is nothing in all the world which produces as much suffering as love. Hate or even indifference do not inflict as much damage to the heart as love. For to love is to expose one’s soul to penetration by the fiery arrows of betrayal, of deceit, of disappointment. To love is to make oneself vulnerable. Love can weaken and diminish a man as readily as it can strengthen him. The stampeding herd of my emotions which has left me crumpled and useless on the ground is of infinite number, and cannot end its rampage until I close my heart. I refuse to concede.”
-          from the prologue to Lovesick
 
One of my fondest memories of the wonderful Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis partnership is them singing That’s Amore. When the world seems to shine like you’ve had too much wine…that’s amore. Amore is the Italian word for love, but what is love? Surely it is more than the feeling you have when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie. Love has been the subject of more songs, poems and stories than any other, and is impossible to define simply. There are different kinds of love, and they usually operate together to varying degrees; sometimes seemingly inextricable from one another.


 
What Martin was singing about was the rush of warm fuzziness which characterises being in love. This intensely nice feeling overwhelms those who are in love, and colours their world in happy, hopeful shades. In Lovesick, Angus is afflicted with lovesickness, an obsession which drives him to extreme misbehaviour.
 
Have you ever been in love? What was the major symptom of your lovesickness?

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