I was standing next to the great Bruce Dern at last Saturday night’s Palm Spring Film Festival gala. He was wearing a tux, smiling and chatting, posing for photos. And I happened to look down and notice that he wasn’t wearing a pair of uptown Bruno Magli or John Varvatos or even Florsheim evening shoes (shiny black leather, a genuine or pseudo-Italian “statement”, lace-ups or buckles) but what looked like black running shoes or, worse, orthopedic comfort shoes. Right away I came up with my own Dernsy: “Jesus, I love the guy…he’s gotta be the greatest raconteur in the world and his Oscar campaign has been inspired, and then he kinda screws it up — in the eyes of discerning journalists, at least — a little bit anyway — by wearing old man shoes!”

Let me explain something: I’ve walked around the streets of Rome, Milan and Florence on warm evenings, and white-haired Italian guys never, EVER wear comfort shoes. It’s a point of pride. They would rather be stricken with a heart attack and collapse on the street than wear those clunky things. I’m not saying old guys can’t wear comfortable shoes at home or while walking around the neighborhood or the mall, but when you’re out at night and hanging with the swells you have to wear classy, high-style, Cary Grant-at-El Morocco footwear, even if it hurts. Even if it shortens your life.”