October 23rd, 2006

krazy koati

Till touchdown brings me round again to find

Quick, now: how many times have you ever encountered a person impersonating running superstar Steve ``Pre'' Prefontaine? I wouldn't expect that's a very large number even for those of you who live in large cities. While I admit in many ways I've lived a sheltered life, the number of Steve Prefontaine impersonators I've met had been zero -- until a chance encounter on Orchard Road. The venue was the sidewalk outside the Hereen, where in the past I've encountered women dressed as aliens, including antennae, passing out invitations to clubs without drawing much attention. When the impersonator invited me to the Nike-sponsored ``Prefontaine Museum'', a small bus, I reflexively turned him down. Then I wondered when I'd see something like this again. When would I see a Signaporean with a mustache again?

Around the small green van were posters praising ``Pre'' and his association with Nike, as well as a panel, ``Do you know the waffle?'' This wasn't a reference to that spasm that captured the minds of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 writers, but rather to the legendary creation of the sneakers' track shoes, which were proved out by the designer pouring rubber on his wife's waffle iron.

It wasn't a big exhibit, partly because they wanted it to fit inside the van, and partly I suppose because Steve Prefontaine did die at age 24. You can have a fascinating life in 24 years -- Alexander the Great had conquered the Persian Empire by that age -- but, really, he'd just been running. Basically you could climb in, and see an ancient radio, or a mechanical typewriter, or a TV set with the tube removed and a pair of sneakers placed inside. There were the little merchandising trinkets of the age, and some magazines which looked like they might date to the early 70s, but I don't know what actual sports or running magazines of the 70s would be, so they could have been faked. Down about six feet and out the other end, a woman handed me a free commemorative waffle. It was just a little quarter-circle wedge, cooling rapidly, but they were giving them out.

Later I wondered if I should have more rigorous standards about the provenance of what I will put in my mouth and swallow. I don't seem to be dead yet, so it can't be that bad. And I also wondered where they found a Singaporean guy with a passable resemblance to Steve Prefontaine.

Trivia: In the first ten months of 1865 the Central Pacific earned $313,404 from mail, passenger, and freight shipping, against expenses of $93,448. Source: Nothing Like It In The World, Stephen Ambrose.

Currently Reading: The Great Game, John Steele Gordon.