About Tony Walker Today

Graduate of Canisius High School '71 and Boston College '75. Proprietor of the Advantage Co.

My Favorite Things 011

Frank’s Favorite Tie

A couple of weeks ago, my nephew Frank was in town for Juliana’s wedding party, and he brought along some pure gold … a collection of [his dad] Frank’s old ties. Ties to Frank were his statement that he was ready to work. To this day, I always wear a tie when I go to work [which for the past 10 years has been at my home office]. When you are Zooming with me, you know I’m working – and it’s the tie that gives it away.

Frank Gaglione has been gone for ten years now, and a day doesn’t go by that I don’t think of him. Frank and I were more than friends, we were brothers, but most importantly, we shared a full exposure to everything we were. There were no secrets. We were privy to each other’s hopes, ambitions, fears, and, candidly, our numerous flaws and transgressions.

Way to go, Tony.” How many times did I hear that as I messed up in one way or another over the 50 years that he watched over me? The most memorable was as I was spinning out on the Thruway on a bed of ice, and as we were getting ready to crash into the side rail, all I heard was, “Way to go, Tony.”

There have been countless people who have been instrumental in all that I have done and been. I’d like to say that they all get to now confidently share in knowing it was a job well done, but I don’t think I would get universal agreement on that point. Nevertheless, I am beholden to everyone, especially Frank.

But back to the ties …

Every Christmas, Frank and I would gift each other two ties. It was a great tradition that started when I was 13 as a Freshman at Canisius High School [where we had to wear a tie every day]. To say that I looked forward to ‘Frank’s Christmas ties’ would not do it justice. Every year, without fail, Frank delivered my favorite ties [that I would repeatedly wear for the rest of the school year]. And shopping for the two ties that I would gift him became a treasure hunt every December.

In the early eighties, as Frank and my sister were breaking up, Christmas rolled around, and with the usual anticipation, I unwrapped Frank’s slim Christmas-wrapped package only to find two of the most depressing ties I’ve ever seen. To which he said, “A little too dark?” And that was life with Frank … there was never a moment, no matter how dark, that we couldn’t still find some humor.

Today, we live in a world with the usual chaos. Trust me, it’s no worse or better than what nearly every generation has had to experience. My grandparents went through a world war, followed by the Great Depression, and then another world war that featured a little nuclear bombardment to finish things off. But what that generation had was perseverance buttressed by a joy for life. There was less complaining and more doing. And this morning, I have put on Frank’s favorite tie, and I am doing more [just as the Jesuits demanded of me]. It may not be the answer for everyone or to everything, but it’s a start.

And, hopefully, somewhere along the way today, I will have a good laugh. And sometimes, the best laugh is when you get to laugh at yourself.

My Favorite Things 010

Vintage Nike Waffle Racers

I was born with an extra appendage on my left foot [i.e. polydactyly]. It was removed when I was young, and fortunately, other than inhibiting skating on my left edge, it hasn’t been a problem – but it does make me quite particular about the shoes I wear.

Over the years, I have tried on hundreds of pairs of shoes, sneakers, boots, and slides, looking for the perfect fit.

The most comfortable shoes for me were always from Ecco, or the Onitsuka Tiger, Adidas Dragon, and the driving shoes from Johnston & Murphy, but a few years ago I happened across a pair of vintage Nike Waffle Racers – and my lifelong quest for the perfect fit had come to an end.

The Nike Waffle Racer US 10, UK 9, EU 44 is the perfect fit.

Nike made a special edition Waffle Racer for J Crew several years ago, and it was the first Waffle Racer I ever tried. From the moment I laced them up, it was perfect. And from there, I slowly began my collection of vintage Nike Waffle Racers. And now my feet reject any other shoe, boot, sneaker, or slide. Other than the occasional dress shoe, my feet reside solely in Nike Waffle Racers.

Unfortunately, the vintage Nike Waffle Racer is no longer in production. However, this has made my still-growing collection of way too many Nike Waffle Racers pretty valuable.

The pickings are slim these days – unless you want to pay over $400 [which I refuse to do]. But searching through eBay, Poshmark, StockX, FarFetch, etc. remains an occasional ritual that still gives me the thrill of the hunt. Sometimes a vintage pair will show up for under a hundred dollars, and you know some guy is going to be really pissed when he finds out they are missing from his closet. Occasionally I get burned, but I have purchased vintage Nike Waffle Racers from all over the world, including Japan, Russia, Mexico, and Poland.

While my collection has become a source of entertainment for my family and friends, it has served a higher purpose – my feet feel great.

In other sneaker news, NikeCraft is launching its new General Purpose Shoe on June 10th. Even though the Waffle Racer is perfect, the quest for an even more perfect fit continues, so I’ll be hunting down a US 10, UK 9, EU 44 NikeCraft General Purpose Shoe as soon as I can. We’ll see if it measures up.


Nike Waffle Racer – the only thing missing is the icing sugar

August 5, 2021 4:00 PM

In the early 1970s, Hayward Field in Oregon was converted from a cinder track to an artificial surface. This meant a new standard for the shoes of the ‘Blue Ribbon’ brand, founded by Bill Bowerman and better known to us today as Nike.

Bowerman actually experimented with a waffle iron for a new shoe. His wife Barbara later told The Oregonian newspaper:

“When one of the waffles came out, he said, ‘You know, if you turn it upside down – where the waffle part is in contact with the track – that might work.’ So he got up from the table, went to his lab and got two cans of whatever you pour together to make the urethane and poured them into the waffle iron. “The end product was a running shoe without heavy spikes.

Barbara Bowerman

Bill was constantly working to change and redefine the status quo of his running equipment. His eureka moment was the Waffle Sneaker, which was successfully launched in 1973. The shoe is responsive and adapts to uneven running surfaces. It also helped spread the idea that not only the midsole but also the outsole can absorb shock.

Previously, many track and field soles were flat and low to the ground, but the waffle-inspired sole had small ridges that provided extra support and rebound. This was the first major innovation from a company that later revolutionized the sneaker industry with inventions such as Visible Air, Flyknit, Lunarlon, and others.

The first Nike Waffle Racer

Priced between $21.95 and $24.95, the running shoe, originally made in Japan, had a nylon upper and was first released in a red and white color scheme. However, the version that quickly became popular with local athletes bore the distinctive yellow and green design of the University of Oregon, while later models also bore the colors of other Californian colleges, such as UCLA.

The first campaigns for the Waffle Sneaker were launched with slogans like “Made Famous by Word of Foot Advertising” (Made famous by advertising with the foot) touted: “You’ve seen them on training tracks and fields all over the country. You know them for their quality, their lightweight, and long life.”

Later, canvas versions were launched, as well as a women’s version and a slightly revised and more expensive version called the Waffle Racer, which was launched around 1977 and cost around $30. The Racer kept the design DNA of the shoe alive and well, with the added benefit of a lightweight EVA midsole and a wider, slightly more stable design.

Nike Waffle Racer

Over the course of time, the original waffle sole has been used in a variety of Nike products, for example, in tailwinds and even in shoes for American football.

No one really paid attention to the famous waffle iron itself until an old device was unearthed near a house in Coburg, Oregon. That’s where former Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman lived. The wife of Bill’s son Jon Bowerman discovered it by chance, along with shoe treads that Bill himself had still made.

So Nike’s Holy Grail had been rediscovered and is now on display at the company’s headquarters in Beaverton. Nike historian Scott Reames said of the discovery: “It truly is the headwaters of our innovation. From a historian’s standpoint, it’s like finding the Titanic.”


Don’t forget you are a guest, so behave accordingly.

As with nearly all of my posts, this one is especially for my grandkids.

Whether you believe in god and country is of little matter to me. I simply hope you recognize that we are nothing more than a brief guest here in this world – and we should behave accordingly.

No one likes a bad guest.

We all know the bad guest. They take advantage of everything and add little. They expect to be served and satisfied. They are entitled – and they truly believe their existence [or the brief entertainment or service they provide] justifies their insouciance.

On a small scale, they expect it all and provide little. They borrow something and rarely return it in its original condition. They order big and tip small. They drive your car and never fill up the tank. They piss in the well but expect fresh water when they are thirsty. They demand 100% and are aggrieved by anything less. And they always deserve more.

The bottom line is that they expect more than they give.

The common thread with poor guests is that they just don’t get it. They think their bill was somehow overpaid in advance. They have a steadfast belief in their exaggerated self-worth – as if they matter. They fool themselves into thinking they are valuable because they attract, support, and feed off other bad guests. They harbor a secret zest in others’ complaints. They are a nidus.

As long as they have something to complain about, they have the air-cover they need to tear down anything without consequence [to them].

In the big picture, they are more destructive. They are morally superior while always the critic and never the builder. To the bad guest, those in charge are always idiots or corrupt, the accommodations are always substandard, the water is never hot enough, the salmon is never cooked right, the weather never suits them, the service never measures up, and it is always someone else’s fault. Accountability is not their strong suit. It is always someone else who is accountable for their hardship – and their hardships are endless.

They are in no one’s debt because they believe they are always getting less than they deserve. Of course, their host is always distressed by their complaints – knowing the accommodations will never be enough.

Unfortunately, with victimhood now in fashion, it’s getting harder to tell the bad guests from the truly afflicted. But you still know who they are – and it would be a big help to everyone if you told them that they are merely guests here and should start behaving accordingly. And remind them that nothing is free – and nothing is just there for the taking. And then tell them to try not to make a mess – even if they think they are a rock star. We are all getting tired of cleaning up after them.

Of course, it might help if they knew whose guest they really were. Maybe then they would appreciate the accommodations and just how fortunate they are to be staying here for a while. After all, even if fate gives them a late checkout, their stay here will eventually come to an end – and the bill will come due. And they are the only ones who can pay that bill – the host insists.

On the other hand, I have some friends, family, and associates among the most generous guests. The family member who cares, the employee who everyone relies on, the doctor who is tireless in his aide, the business partner who builds and then builds some more, the friend who stands fast, and those that love. They are the ones that don’t just pass thorough but actually make it better. They appreciate life. They are the guests you want in your world, and it’s the guest I am trying to be [knowing full well that I’ve not always been a good guest].

Be big, be a builder. Your host will appreciate it.