Photo Essay: Shoefiti, Tucson, Arizona

Shoefiti is one of those things that isn’t unique to Tucson.

It’s the practice of tying a pair of shoes together, then tossing them at overhead wires. The goal is to get them hanging up there for all to see.

This example of accurate tossing can be seen along North Fourth Avenue…

Photo essays - shoefiti in Tucson, Arizona

Which begs the question of why one would toss a perfectly good pair of shoes to a place where they can’t easily be retrieved. The answer is: No one knows.

Among the nefarious, but popular, explanations are:

  1. Illicit drugs are used and sold at this location.
  2. A bully has stolen a pair of shoes and tossed them up high to taunt the theft victim.
  3. This is gang turf. Rivals, beware.

Other, more benign, explanations? Well, there are a lot of them too. Here’s a sample:

  1. These shoes don’t fit. So, out of my life they go…
  2. I’m moving up and out of this neighborhood. ‘Bye, everybody!
  3. Hmmm, let’s see if I can get these shoes up over that wire…

The Fratricide Angle

Near where the above shoes are dangling, a murder took place. That was back in the fall of 2005.

Two brothers got into an argument, one shot the other, and left him to die on the street. I’m told that when the police call went out, an officer said, "Two down."

This past fall was the fifth anniversary of the young man’s death. A small shrine — with a cross and flowers — was placed along Fourth Avenue near the current location of the dangling shoes. The shrine stayed up for a few weeks, then vanished.

Are the murder and the dangling shoes related? The answer is: No one knows.

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