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Who has the famous al-Zaidi Bush shoes

Everyone's clamoring for the shoe heard around the world. The several manufacturers who claim to have cobbled the offending black oxfords are deluged in orders. A Saudi man has offered ten million dollars for Muntadhar al-Zaidi's original pair. But the NYT reports: "Explosives tests by investigators destroyed the offending footwear." Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?! I don't believe that shit for a minute. If airport security can verify footwear inertness in a few seconds... Not that a pair of worn leather shoes matters a whit. But there is more than shoe fetish at foot here. And I find something about the fate of this pair of shoes that's awfully unlike a Skull and Bones man. Idolatry The Saudi who offered the king's ransom for the "Medal of Freedom" shoes, may have been enraptured by idolatry, but he knows the magical allure which those shoes will always possess. How can any of us deny the mystical energy we attribute to baseballs marked by having been hit to home runs? All Americans take, or aspire to take, a pilgrimage to the Smithsonian to see the actual, for real, objects of their common heritage. Museums of art and natural history, glean an idolatry all their own, but historical collections like the Smithsonian and the British Imperial War Museum, peddle in pure talisman mysticism. The crown jewels come to mind, or any ordinary person's diamond. Stones, crystals, runes, coins, fetishes, heirlooms, antiques, personal designer accessories, safety blankets. We swim in stuff which have meaning greater than their utility. Even poor Diogenes had his lantern. Who are we kidding that mere objects don't have enormous power over us? I myself keep everything. I frequently feel I'm drowning in remembrances and chanced-upon objects for which I aspire sentiment. Would that I could focus on strength-building empowering articles. I'm reminded of last year's sale of a copy of the Magna Carta, was it, to a modern Wall Street robber baron. I was not alone to surmise that he paid 21 million for the now-transgressed compact, probably to wipe his ass with it. As the great white hunters paid their safari guides in hope of being the last to personally vanquish whatever late species was next to be rendered extinct. The al-Zaidi Shoes This famous pair of shoes were thrown by Muntadhar al-Zaidi at President Bush, al-Zaidi being the first man to dare show defiance to the US Nero. Although, certain intellectuals do come to mind, for having voiced their discontent with his policies. I remember too, a certain brave Indonesian witch doctor who cast a magic curse on the universally despised Bush. Ki Gendeng Pamungkas placed a jinx to shorten Bush's stay in Indonesia, it wasn't a fatal voodoo spell, for that would have been just as illegal as making threats is in the US. I will always believe there must have been countless more who've cursed Bush to his face, if prudently under their breath. But journalist al-Zaidi did the one act above all others. He showed open, physical defiance. At the bottom line, against an imperial

Papieren Bitte? Just your shoes please

Most people can easily conjure the cinematic image of Gestapo officers blocking train passengers, demanding "Your papers please." That such a scene could ever develop in America, haunts citizens opposed to national identity cards or embedded microchips. But with modern surveillance methods as pervasive as cellphones, perhaps today's state security services have less need to verify who we are. I'll assert the US Department of Homeland Security is charged more with making Americans feel the heavy boot print of authoritarianism. I think that in the wake of 9/11, this nation has indeed mobilized a "papers please" law enforcement policy. The proof is there in black and white in the Patriot Act; you can see it in the Civil Liberties-free zone which immigration officers have been empowered to enforce to 100 miles inland from our borders; and you can see it at our airports. Last night's 60-Minutes questioned the punitive aspects of the TSA measures to which today's airline passengers are subjected. Less surprisingly, CBS also suggested their probable ineffectiveness. Having just paid a holiday visit to DIA, I was inclined to see more. Yes, this is another holiday post. Credit where credit is due? It's no coincidence this is about shoes. Papieren Bitte First, I'd like to deconstruct the film mythology, which originated in wartime, from Hollywood Home Front propaganda meant to demonize the Hun. Certainly the trench-coated SS officer, or leather-jacketed Gestapo detective, asking for your documents, cut a villainous figure. But they were, in reality, as out of the ordinary as today's FBI or CIA agents. Have you ever happened upon a one of those? More often by far, during WWII, the job of asking for a traveler's "Legitimacion" was assigned to the gendarmes of the occupied countries, or to the collaborators who'd been deputized. These were ordinary constables and men who otherwise were unfit to serve in combat. Old frumps, maligned and bitter. If you can picture the run-of-the-mill TSA troll, you see where I'm going. Public Transportation Where travelers a half-century ago were taking trains, today the public city-to-city lattice is airborne. Today we queue for planes, not trains. And instead of producing our "papers" --I should say, IN ADDITION to producing our papers-- we are required to remove our shoes, all sorts of articles, submit to searches, and refrain from carrying certain items, in order to thread the needle that allows us access to public travel. I'm not sure if today's security screening isn't the equivalent of the depiction of the 40s silver-screen. Before you argue that I'm being alarmist, please consider that most Germans during the war, indeed the overwhelming majority of citizens of occupied Europe, had little to fear by being asked for their documents. You or I are not insurgents on the lam, nor aspiring bomb-throwers. We do not fear being sent to Guantanamo. Indeed, you might remember, the movie heroes who sweated the Nazi checkpoints were always resistance fighters, saboteurs, or escaped Allied prisoners. Today, ask yourself how an enemy of the USA would fare trying to use

US media takes shoe, makes lemonade

Muntadha al-Zaidi's shoe may have missed George Bush, but it left a figurative black eye on the warrior emperor, and, a literal shiner on White House spokes- gidget Dana Perino. She was hit by a microphone as secret service agents rushed to protect the president. Which could not have worked out better for the US media. If the injured staffer had been a man, do you imagine the news photos of facial bruises would be so intimate? While the world media is focused on demonstrations to urge the release of al-Zaidi, the US media is zooming in close on Perino's black eye. I'm thinking, you don't have to be a wife-beater to admit to the provocative element in these pictures of a battered blond, about as tall as a child, female. You need quite a distraction from the embarrassing imagery of world citizenry eager to kick Bush in the ass as he leaves office. Perino was already familiar with USO Playboy Bunny cheesecake.

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