Saturday, April 21, 2012

April 21st-Brought To You By the Letter 'S'

Shoe-Tying Around the World

  I've been taking pictures of me tying my shoe since the late 1970s, but I'm not exactly sure why.  I think a member of my family thought this would be a funny idea.  Or he may have been off his meds.  
  In any event, I have dozens of shots of me doing just that.  But, rather than bore you with the mundane, I'd like to bore you with pictures.  
  And, find a spot for 'S' for the A-Z Challenge.
  Why not?

While technically not a picture of me tying my shoe, it does involve feet.  Taken in front of a monument for some dead guy, I picked up a piece of ancient history in the form of a pebble in my shoe.  So, as I sat down on a 2,000 year old piece of temple to remove it, my companion (no, not that kind of companion) thought it would be great fun to snap my picture.  He also licked park benches.

Palma, Spain-1979
  The very first photograph of me tying my shoe, I managed to convince another companion (the first was arrested by Vatican Park Police for that bench thing) to take a picture with me.  Amazing what you can talk people into when you offer to buy them beer.
NOTE:  The ultra-snazzy orange bag from Rome.

  Taken in front of Saint Mark's basilica, the church had a strict "no velour shirt, no corduroy pants, no admission" policy.  Luckily, it was the 70s so I had a closet full of them.  Along with my platform shoes.
NOTE:  I've worn the same pair of pants for the last three pictures.

Millington, Tennessee-1987
Yeah, I know. Tennessee.
  This looks kinda "Village People," if you know what I mean.  

St. Augustine, Florida-1987
You may have figured that from the sign.
Hey, at least it ain't Tennessee.
NOTE: The alligator was fake. Unfortunately, those shorts were not.

Dead Sea, Middle of Nowhere, Israel-1996
  In a twist from the conventional, we chose to "tie our feet" in this action shot after we left a mud bath by the shores of the Dead Sea. Leaving our shoes on the frikkin' bus may not have been such a hot idea. 

Venice-The Sequel-1996
  In a triumphant return to Venice, I opted for one of the 1980s most stylish ensembles: that of the acid-washed jacket and blue jeans.  Too bad it was 1996. 

  Masada: poignant site of one of the most tragic events of the Jewish Revolt against the Roman Empire in the 1st Century A.D.  It was here where hundreds of Sicarii extremists chose to commit suicide rather than being taken hostage by the Romans.  Yep, the perfect spot to tie my shoe.

Saint Peter's Basilica-1996
Yeah, there's some money in that church
  Our tour guide cautioned, "You'll notice that the right foot of Saint Peter's statue has been worn away by countless hundreds of thoughtless pilgrims who did not realize the destruction they were causing."  As she turned her back, I reasoned, "Hey, if I can take a picture at Masada, I can rub Saint Peter's foot."  
  So, I did.

Spanish Steps, Rome-1996
  Where's Al?  Wayyyyyyyyyy at the top wearing a salmon (not pink, dammit) shirt.  Despite its name, I didn't meet a single Spanish speaker there.
  But, there was a guy selling what he swore were real Rolex's.  And some dirty playing cards.  And Italian "World War II Victory" tee shirts for 90% off.

El Yunque Rain Forest, Puerto Rico-2003
Mostly Cloudy With a Chance of Civil Unrest
  On the other hand, there were loads of Spanish speakers here.  Including that one annoyed-looking woman glaring at me.  I think she told me to do something impossible with myself.

Blacksburg, Virginia-2010
Still not Tennessee, but close
  Please note the difference between the first picture of me tying my shoe and this one taken only a couple years ago. That's right!  I'm wearing jeans! 
Mars Cheese Castle, Wisconsin-2012
Exit 340, I-94
Same exit as the Bong Recreation Area.
Yeah, I think we all know that by now.

  Just to prove I have no intention of stopping this type of photography, I snuck a picture behind this huge rat.  The management was even less impressed when I tried to have a picture taken of me sitting on top of the cheese.
NOTE: It's not a real hunk of cheese.  Or rat.

  You may have noticed a gap between 1979-1987.  While you may think this is due to a bout of mental health on my part, I must tell you that this is not the case.  While my travels overseas stopped during that time period, I managed to tie my shoes in Virginia Beach, Busch Gardens, Disney World, Blue Ridge Parkway, Kitty Hawk, Yankee Stadium, Sturbridge Village, a Christmas nativity scene, and the "Express Line" at the Hamden, Connecticut, Department of Motor Vehicles.  
  For some reason, though, these pictures have disappeared.  I think either Mrs. Penwasser #1 was awarded them in the divorce settlement or Mrs. Penwasser #2 chose to, incredibly, throw them away.  So, like the mysteries of the Sphinx, the recipe for Coke, or why anyone thought getting Snooki pregnant was a good idea we'll just never know.

EPILOGUE:  I recently received a picture of my nephew taking a picture of him tying his shoe in the desert somewhere in the...uh...desert (just in case you weren't paying attention).  It gives me great joy to see this tradition living on. And great concern that insanity apparently runs in the family. 


  1. I love the idea of taking photos of you tying your shoes everywhere you go, awesome pictures Al, it goes without saying that you're certainly a well travelled guy. Sorry to hear you've lost ten years worth of shoe typing, ah well though, it's still such an awesome idea.

  2. I can't believe there are that many pics of people tying their shoes floating around! Hilarious! You take A-Z to a whole new level, Mr. Penwasser. Are you actually awake posting these things at 3am or do you preschedule? Inquiring minds want to know!!

  3. Have you ever had a picture taken of you tying your shoe while holding a picture of you tying your shoe? Come on Al let's step it up a notch. Go crazy!

  4. I'm starting a little late in life, but I'm SO going to copy your photo op concept....won't be tying shoes will be something to do with my motorcycle...hmmm will have to think about that... thanks for the idea!

  5. i showed my dad some of your pictures of shoe tying around the globe from facebook. he thinks you're funny & quick-witted. =)

    1. By the by, you get a mention on Monday. Tuck-ins ring a bell?
      Although you really shouldn't put them on a bell.

    2. i've been anxiously awaiting your T post. i checked twice today to see if it had arrived in my reader yet.
      i think a tuck-in with a bell might defeat the point of subtlety.

    3. 'T' is Monday, I'm afraid. There's a disturbing picture at the end. Not nearly as disturbing as it could be, though. Let's put it this way: it involves Yogi Bear.

  6. Wow you've been to a lot of places

  7. No one else I know would think of having their photo taken while tying their shoe. You always crack me up!

  8. Try your 6th degree skills on this killer of an actor: O.J. Simpson to Kevin Bacon. If successful you will be taken on a tour of Palma Majorca's topless beaches--with the ship's priest.

    1. I will do so. A little busy right now, though. Oh, by the way, you were with me at Masada. For all I know, you may have even taken the picture!

    2. Like I said, little busy, so this may not be the shortest route but...
      OJ Simpson-Leslie Nielsen-Jamie Lee Curtis-Dan Akroyd-John Belushi-Kevin Bacon
      OJ Simpson was in 'Police Squad' with Leslie Nielsen who was in 'Prom Night' with Jamie Lee Curtis who was in 'Trading Places' with Dan Akroyd who was in the 'Blues Brothers' with John Belushi who was in 'Animal House' with Kevin Bacon

  9. New book idea! Al Ties His Shoes

  10. LMAO now that is something I never heard of anyone doing, the art of shoe tying, with photo's and all..hahaha....if only we had those power laces from back to the future, you never would have had to stick your foot inside an alligator, you shouldn't tell it was fake, takes away from the realism..haha

  11. This is one of my favorite A to Z posts that you've written! I love your idea of shoe tying from around the world! You've been to some amazing places, and I had so much fun seeing where you'd pop up next! I only wish that you would have zoomed in on some of the photos, but that would have only compromised your artistic integrity! Julie

    1. Oh, you get a mention on Monday. Thought I'd forgotten about Tuck-Ins, didn't you?

  12. @Bushman: Oh, you have so given me an idea. I'll try to get one of me in front of maybe a Philadelphia icon with a framed picture of the first "shoe-tie" picture.
    @Julie: Yeah, integrity. Let's call it that. :-)
    @Ruth: Hmmmmmmm........
    @Pat: Shoe tying and animals.....that's another good idea.
    @Eva: I really wish I could remember how it all started. That part of the post was absolutely true.
    @Adam: And some of them even let me come back.
    @Sherilin: Lucky you. You have the dubious pleasure (?) of seeing these on Facebook. You may be interested to know that I use "Great Googli Moogli" a lot. Thanks-it has really put a new variety in my speech. "GGM" is safe to say at school. I used to say "Maron" (spelling?), but it's Italian and I think it's dirty.
    @Laurie: A photo with a motorcycle in the background would be fantastic!

  13. @Jenn: I've prescheduled all of them this month. I didn't want a day to slip by and not have a post out. Starting next month, I'll be back to my slacker ways.
    @Matthew: It drives me crazy that there are a lot of these around somewhere. My favorite one is me in a Nativity scene. Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus, 3 Wise Men, a few shepherds, a camel, coupla sheep...and some doofus with loose laces.

  14. I think you've started a meme.

  15. This is so much more natural than planking.

    Great idea. Now I have to catch up on the rest.

  16. If you were wearing slip ons or sandals did you pretend to tie your lace?

  17. @dbs: Maybe....take a picture of you doing something innocuous (or socially objectionable) and putting it on Blogger?
    @AC: Shoe-Tying. Mindless photography before mindless photography was hip. Take THAT, planking!
    @Tony: That is SUCH a good question. And the answer is....YES. I didn't post those (like I said, there are a lot of these around). You can get a idea of how we did things like that by the picture of us at the Dead Sea-tying our bare feet.

  18. @Sherilin: Oh, more more thing about Facebook. Lucky you-you'll get a weekly "Shoe-Tie" picture.

    1. i feel nervous with anticipation.

    2. There will be another "shoe tie" sometime this week.

  19. This is the most awesome post I've seen all night. I'm a new follower!

    1. Thanks! Hope you like tomorrow's! There's two pictures of Titos (the dictator and the Jackson)

  20. This is the most outrageously original A-Z post I've ever seen. As you can guess, your shoe-tying moment at Masada is my favorite.

    PS Good thing you and yours aren't into Velcro. That'd be a bit challenging to incorporate with a shoe-tying theme.


  21. I am stealing your idea, but since I don't travel very much, I will just photoshop. Since I don't know how to photoshop, I'll just imagine I did.
    Did you save any of your clothes from the 70s? I am willing to pay good money for just one of those shirts.

  22. Such an epic post! Of course, now I'm jealous. I've been to some of those places -- Rome, Venice, Dead Sea, Masada, St. Augustine -- but never did I think to take themed photos everywhere I went. I've missed out on so much.

    Ooh, but once we start traveling with my son, I can start such a tradition. Shoe-tying is yours, so I'll have to come up with something else... though I can't think of anything good. Shoe-untying it is!

  23. You are brilliant. You've very likely given birth to an entire generation of epic photos now.