Arnold’s boots

Reader Jesse sent me this photo from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Facebook page, which the Governator had captioned as follows:

“Ever since I came to this country I collected cowboy boots. It is a hobby that requires a little work.”


But Arnold is doing it rong, I think: I never use a brush on my boots—only a soft cloth. And it’s not work but pleasure: a meditative exercise.

I have to add that if these are all the boots that Arnold owns, well, I’ve got him beat by a factor of least seven.

On the other hand, those are really, really expensive boots, all of them handmade and many of them hand-tooled. (I covet the pair of natural alligator boots fifth from the left in the front row: natural, undyed gator skin is hard to find! Notice, too, the two pair of full-gator boots in the second row. Those are muy caro.)

When I visited the Tres Outlaws boot factory in El Paso about four years ago, they were working on a fancy pair, with solid silver decorations, that Maria Shriver (Arnold’s ex-wife) was going to give him for Christmas, and I got a close look at them. I believe they’re the third pair from the right in the front row. At any rate, Tres Outlaws hand-tooled and painted boots, such as the pair on the extreme left in the front row, run on the order of ten to fifteen thousand dollars (see some examples of Tres Outlaws’ work here). But of course Arnold can afford them—his Wikipedia page estimates his net worth at around $400 million dollars!

Well, I could go on and on about the boots in the picture, but I risk boring the readers, so I’ll cut this off—except to say that while I share Arnold’s love of cowboy boots and fine Cuban cigars, we part ways when it comes to politics.


  1. Posted January 10, 2014 at 2:10 am | Permalink

    Perhaps that is suede? Anyway, in my experince it is probably posed by the photographer. It is not the camera that lies, but the camera man.

  2. gluonspring
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 2:13 am | Permalink

    I’ve never been a fan of boots, but I find it oddly relaxing to hear you talk about them. Far from being bored, I found myself wanting another couple of paragraphs about these boots.

  3. gravityfly
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 3:22 am | Permalink

    A factor of seven! That’s a lotta boots.

    • abrotherhoodofman
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 5:14 am | Permalink

      A virtual boot swarm, indeed.

  4. David Duncan
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 3:45 am | Permalink

    I’ve got about 15 pairs of boots, in various colours, types of leather and condition. Some are in perfect condition, for weddings and such, others are normal pairs for work and such, some are in bad condition and just fit for gardening. I use a special wax on one pair, and boot polish on the others. I use a brush on the older ones that aren’t in such good condition.

    My feet are too broad to fit easily in to tall boots, so I generally wear elastic sided boots, although I might give tall boots another try. I don’t think I could justify spending more than $1000 on a pair though.

    I like Arnie, he seems not as obtuse as the typical Republican. And although I can’t stand cigarette smoke I’m not too bothered by cigar smoke, so long as someone else is smoking it.

  5. wnwd
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 4:24 am | Permalink

    Quite like your boot commentaries!… agree w/ gluonspring that I find ’em “relaxing”, even contemplative, (tho nothing “oddly” ’bout it!).

    Meanwhile, wow!, 140+ pair?! (7 x 20 pair in the photo +), that’s quite the collection, Imelda Coyne!… kidding!, kidding!

  6. Posted January 10, 2014 at 5:03 am | Permalink

    I am a Hawaiian shirt collector. I wear ’em to work, and they sure stand out around here in Michigan during winter. They also seem to cheer my students up because when I walk in the room I see them laughing….

  7. gbjames
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    You must have a very large closet.

  8. Posted January 10, 2014 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    In Bangkok, Thailand, you can have tailor-made western boots out of a large variety of leathers and skins such as crocodile (from the crocodile farms), python and various other snakes, ostrich and shark skin. They are beautifully crafted and of excellent quality, and cost far, far less than they cost in the US and Europe.

    My husband and I often fantasize going there to have several pairs made to fit our feet, when we are rich. You can also have beautiful three-piece suits plus shirt plus tie made out of excellent silks, for about $100, and for ladies, you can have anything you wish tailor-made from beautiful silks. Also, the porcelain there is exquisitely beautiful too.

    We would of course need to be wealthy so that we could stay in the best hotels (and visit other beautiful places in Thailand). We would naturally go there with several large and largely empty suitcases which we would then fill with all our tailor-made boots, suits and other garments. We would have the porcelain shipped, of course. 😀

  9. darrelle
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    Never knew that about Arnold. Many of those boots I really like, but a few pair are kind of cheesey. If I were worth hundreds of millions of dollars I could probably justify to myself spending $10,000 on a pair of boots. At least once.

    Regarding brush use on boots, hey, I’m an expert. When I was 9 years old I shined shoes for a living. Mostly military shoes and boots. A brush is the tool of choice for applying certain types of products to leather and for at least the first stage of removal / polishing of certain types of products on leather. You need to use a proper brush of course, but it looks like Arnold is. I could bring leather shoes and boots to mirror brightness with a multi step process that used two different brushes at various stages. There are, however, some finishes you should not use any kind of brush on, at least not regularly. Painted leather is one good example.

  10. Kevin
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    I am about to take the boot plunge. I hope I find a pair I can make short bursts of running/quick walking in without harm to my feet or the boots.

    • gluonspring
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 9:24 am | Permalink


      • Kevin
        Posted January 10, 2014 at 9:40 am | Permalink

        No, running after my two cheetah kids.

  11. Posted January 10, 2014 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    The pair of natural gator boots 5 in from the left are made from the tails of two juveniles (you can see the double-crested scale whorls along the instep, with the single-crested scale whorls of the distal part of the tail beginning right at about the toe tip), but I think they are caiman rather than alligator. Alligators at that size are generally black with yellowish stripes, whereas olive brown with tan stripes is more what you’d expect in a caiman. I’m not sure though what changes in color could be wrought by the tanning process.

    Also, many species of crocodilians are (rightly) protected in various countries, including prohibitions on importation, so be careful of purchasing leather goods when traveling, for both your sake and the crocs.

    • Posted January 10, 2014 at 8:57 am | Permalink

      Thanks for the info. These are made by Falconhead, which, like all American bootmakers I know of, adheres strictly to the codes about importation of protected species.

  12. Posted January 10, 2014 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    “…while I share Arnold’s love of cowboy boots and fine Cuban cigars, we part ways when it comes to politics.”

    Alas, politics poisons EVERYthing!

  13. Posted January 10, 2014 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    fine Cuban cigars

    Is that something you’re able to secure in the States, or do you have to limit your indulgences to your international travels?

    My Dad likes cigars. He used to smoke them a lot more, but now he typically limits himself to a handful around this time of year, and I don’t recall him partaking this year. (Which is fine by me, since I’ve never liked the things.) He’s spoken fondly of Cohiba cigars, though….



    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

      I occasionally tease my American family about how I’m going to rat them out if they travel to Cuba (Canadians have to problem with Cuba and vacation there regularly but Americans find their way there too).

      • Posted January 11, 2014 at 11:14 am | Permalink

        I still don’t get why Cuba is so special that Americans are forbidden from going there. If I was wealthy enough to own my own plane or yacht, I’d probably make it a point of flying or sailing directly there from Florida, though the official paperwork I filed with the US might read, “Dominican Republic.”

        Cuba seems to be a pretty fucked-up country without any help from us, but it also seems a fantastic place to enrich the local economy with tourist dollars — music, food, beaches, all the rest.


        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted January 11, 2014 at 11:18 am | Permalink

          Poor Cuba was really destroyed with the US emmbargo and it’s why it is so poor. People in Cuba are highly educated because their universities are fully funded. They also enjoy very good universal healthcare.

          What sucks is the whole weird totalitarian regime thing. Otherwise, it’s a great place to visit. The people are generally pleasant & you don’t have to stick to resorts as it is safe enough to venture forth.

          • Posted January 11, 2014 at 11:42 am | Permalink

            And what’s especially ironic is that we’re long since past the point where the best way to bring out positive political change in Cuba would have been to open the floodgates and pour American business investments into the economy.

            On the other hand, now’s not such a good time for the Cubans for that sort of thing, what with the nascent American police state and all. They already had enough of that with the Soviets.


            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted January 11, 2014 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

              “open the floodgates and pour American business investments into the economy.”

              That’s been tried. Google ‘Batista’.


              • Posted January 12, 2014 at 10:36 am | Permalink

                Yeah, but doing it by installing a dictator isn’t exactly the best way to go about it.

                Really, all it would take would be completely lifting the sanctions and normalizing relations. Americans already love Cubans as much as we hate Castro, and I think the feeling is reasonably mutual. At first there’d be a huge influx of tourist dollars, rapidly followed by a great deal of outsourcing — you’re not going to find a better pool of underpaid overeducated workers anywhere.

                Pump that much money directly into the bottom of any economy and no repressive government will last long.

                (Why do you think Republicans are so opposed to extending jobless benefits or raising the minimum wage?)



              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted January 12, 2014 at 10:49 am | Permalink

                Lifting sanctions would probably go a long way to transforming their government into a more democratic one. China is no paragon of human rights but look how much they’ve changed once all the trading started happening.

              • Posted January 12, 2014 at 11:13 am | Permalink

                Yeah…the real irony would appear to be that we’re outsourcing our democracy to China along with our manufacturing base….


              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted January 13, 2014 at 1:49 am | Permalink

                “Really, all it would take would be completely lifting the sanctions and normalizing relations.”

                Hopefully so. There is a risk that the American big business dollars would see the opportunity for profit and corrupt the process (as it did under Batista – hence my cynical comment). Hopefully the present Cuban government would be able to control the transition process sufficiently to prevent that situation from arising again.

  14. edivimo
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    “Those are muy caro.”

    In fact, is written muy caras. From the spanish-speaking grammar nazi.

  15. lisa parker
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    If you want unpainted alligator, there is a lot of it running around south Florida, a whole lot of it in the intercoastal canal along the East Texas gulf shore and really, really whole lot more around in the Atchafalaya swamp. And I like several of his movies, especially after someone realized he had natural comedic timing. As for his political views, I try not to hear too much about the actors I enjoy watching. I don’t want to know them as people but as characters. Though it wasn’t easy to NOT hear about Schwarzenegger’s political views.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 11, 2014 at 12:03 am | Permalink

      Though I dislike most ‘action’ movies as a genre, I have a sneaking respect for Arnie. As you say, he has comedic timing especially with black humour one-liners, and I’m a sucker for that. “I’ll be back” is a classic example.

      I also have respect for the hard work he put in to make himself an actor. I once caught an awful thing called “Cactus Jack” a.k.a. “The Villain”, in which some idiot producer thought it would be funny to ‘do’ the Wile E Coyote – style cartoons as live-action, complete with all the cartoon jokes. Arnie played straight man to Kirk Douglas (!), and it was a truly dire yawn-fest. I doubt if even Terry Thomas or Jack Lemmon could have salvaged it.
      And to watch Arnie’s performance – you could hardly understand a word he said, his accent was so thick – you’d have said that guy would never, ever make an actor in a million years.

      • lisa parker
        Posted January 11, 2014 at 1:07 am | Permalink

        I must confess that, granted, early in his career he was difficult to understand, but I didn’t listen to him much in “Conan the Barbarian” along with the sequels or “Terminator” and all those sequels, too. The guy was buff! Who cared about the dialogue when he ran around in the very little costumes! (or nothing at all in the “Terminator” movies)

        • Posted January 11, 2014 at 11:20 am | Permalink

          For what it’s worth, his muscles are in no small part the result of steroid use. Real men don’t look like that — at least, not without stabbing themselves in the butt with needles.

          But, as a comic book superhero / supervillain, that look is perfect.

          (And, to be fair, Arnold worked damned hard in the gym to build those muscles at the same time he was taking steroids. It’s not the case that he took injections and they magically grew muscles on him while he lay on the beach. Rather, he put in the proverbial 110% in the gym and also took steroids; it was the combination of the two that got him where he is.)


        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted January 11, 2014 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

          As ‘Conan’ (which I admit I haven’t seen) or ‘Terminator’ I guess he didn’t need to be very fluent in English. So almost ideal roles for him at that stage.

          • Chris
            Posted January 12, 2014 at 7:36 am | Permalink

            Conan is pretty damn cheesy by today’s standards but Arnie is perfect for it. The soundtrack by Basil Poledouris is outstanding (try to spot places in other movies that have also used it) and there is some great cinematography thrown in too.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted January 13, 2014 at 1:32 am | Permalink

              Yup, i guess I should catch Conan some time, just for completeness. (Last time I did that was ‘Barbarella’, and instantly wished I hadn’t…)

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