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Kanye West has either upset you or is upsetting you, and you either like it or you don't. In honor of one of our favorite boat-rockers, we travel to San Antonio and meet up with Jake Danklefs of Dank & Co. in hopes of shaking some heads ourselves. I'm no sneakerhead but I'll admit that I was pretty upset initially by the idea of watching a coveted pair of Ye's arguably finest achievement, the 350 Boost, go under the knife for a mashup conceivable only in a cyclist's bad mushroom trip. Jake welcomes us into his workspace and home, and it wasn't until well into our initial interview with him that I started to get comfortable with the idea of this hallucination. Hell, Jake is so confident in the Frankenboost conversion I'm excited about it.
We get talking amidst a "recently scaled-down" museum of a mad scientist of a cobbler's shoe collection.
Jake's Corgi / Jack Russell has complicated emotions, conflicted in dominance and pleasure, and is named after his all-time favorite basketball player, "Penny".
Penny simultaneously demands both your affection in a belly rub and your most ultimate primal fear as she viciously growls at you to proceed. It's quite confusing and I never got used to it.
For all sneaker fans, this is a Pulp Fiction glowing box moment.
If you know you know.
We finally got an email back from Kanye, and he said we could go ahead with it. We addressed him as Mr. West, of course.
Never attempt these stunts without the supervision of a responsible adult and the blessing of Kanye.
Those shoe insert, white and green foot-looking things on the left are called "lasts", and a wise wizard cobbler says "it always starts with the last."
On the right is part of Jake's collection of his favorite sneaker ever, the Nike Penny 2.
He still has the pair he got for Christmas when he was 11.
His feet were so cute back then.
When the interview and introductory footage are out of the way it's lunch time. Jerusalem Grill hosted, fed, and pleased, and it is on this very day that both Jake and Co. (Phil Macias is Jake's right-hand man, the "Co." of Jake & Co.) taste the sweet ambrosia that is Baklava for the very first time.
Back at the workshop, Phil gets busy most carefully and effectively removing the Yeezy upper from the sole.
It takes delicate use of acetone, an exacto knife, and P-Mac's brute strength.
I learned so much about shoes talking to these doctors, and prior to the surgical procedure I would have said you gotta be a joker to spend all those pennies on foam shoes. But Jake showed me the side-by-side comparison of a bootleg and authentic Boost sole. The bootleg sole is essentially a foam mold that compresses linearly like rubber, whereas the Boost technology is forged from individual foam pellets which gives and has a squish like a progressive spring. Much comfort, very performance.
Phase 1 – Yeezy deconstruction complete
What's next, P?
The doctors did a little homework and found the DZR Minna to be a perfect donor match for the Yeezy conversion. The soul of this cycling shoe is called a "shank" – the stiff platform interfacing the pedal cleat with the footbed that will, after dissection, disappear again into the Boost sole. The completed shoe will have a rock-solid, stiff, cycling-specific footbed when clipped-into the pedals while also maintaining the luxurious walkability of the Adidas Boost sole. Genius!
Extracted in less than a minute, the shank is on the left of the sole.
Most of the sneaker's various anatomy is held together with glue, or Barge Cement if you want in on the pro terms. All of the old cement must be removed in order to make the surface bondable again. Jake's using a heat gun here to soften the glue.
And this is an acetone rub down.
All hail the Dremel. Couldn't have even made Frankenstein sneakers in the olden days without one, and don't even think about it without the internets. Except for Kanye, he coulda.
Phase 2 – shank extraction complete
Now the transplant begins. Scalpel!
Sharpie brand markers are so commonly used in surgical application not only for their intended permanent marking (that ensures operation in the correct place), but also because the ink is alcohol based, making it an unexpected germ fighter.
Measure, measure twice.
"I know what I'm doing."
And measure again.
Point of no return!
No, Saxon, don't eat the Boost.
Phase 3 – cleat cutout complete
This is the real artisanal shit right here. Jake carves out a recessed seat for the DZR shank into the Boost sole.
An artisan, a surgeon, a downhill skiier.
Some sanding and fine tuning
It's a game of guess and check until the shank sits flush.
The Barge Cement has to set for five minutes before the two surfaces are ready to bond. It's pretty magical stuff, because it's not sticky to the touch after you apply it.
But oh baby I like its BOND
Jake had all these endearing idioms and songs he'd insert "Penny" into and sing to her. My favorite was his rendition of Ol' Dirty Bastard – "Shimmy Shimmy Ya", in which he'd sing "Oh Penny I like your pawwwws, oh Penny I like your paws."
Phase 4 – shank transplant complete
Now the glue prep for the modified Boost sole...
And the Yeezy upper
And seat it!
Phase 5 – Yeezy reconstruction complete
Phil says that he laces shoes with his eyes closed...
But I know he was peekin'
Just some fine tuning left...
Paint that shank
Mount those cleats
The good doctor authenticates his work.
"Custom footwear. Never to be duplicated."
The following day Jake takes us on a sort of tour of San Antonio, both limited and enhanced by down-pouring rain, including a stop at Bass Pro Shop and out to their bourgeois masterplanned neighborhood community, The Dominion. I'm smitten, and one day I'll be back to settle down in retirement with Sandra Bullock out there. But we're here for business – the cajun seafood type of business at one of San Antonio's finest establishments, Bourbon Street Seafood Kitchen.
"Eat Well", they say, and eatin' good we did!
Jake, Phil, and San Antonio, we love you and all of your intensely air-conditioned 24-hour restaurants, and we will be back!