April 3, 2016

Johnny B’s High Top Sneakers… My search for the truth… By Michael Scarola

  Johnny B’s High Top Sneakers… My search for the truth…

  By Michael Scarola

I remember back in 1985 seeing promos on television for the Misfits Of Science.  At first I wasn’t planning on watching it but happened to be home the night of the premiere episode and decided to check it out.  I was instantly hooked and the one character that stood out to me was Johnny B.  He had a cool style that not only fit the 1950’s music he sang but also fit into the look of the 1980’s.  Leather motorcycle jackets were in style in the 1980’s and high top sneakers were just gaining popularity.

From the first few moments I saw Johnny B I knew I wanted a pair of white high top sneakers.  At the moment I didn’t care which brand, I just wanted to wear sneakers like Johnny B.  I recorded the episodes on VHS and eventually started scanning through to decipher exactly which high top sneakers he wore.  In the pilot episode and a couple of the earlier episodes he had a pair of white/gray New Balance high tops (figures 1-1 & 1-2).  They appear to be New Balance 480’s and I remember seeing those in stores at the time.

Figure 1-1

Figure 1-2

That year I put white high top sneakers on my Christmas list since I was only 15 years old at the time and didn’t have a job yet.  I got a pair of Kangaroos (Roos) and was happy to have them even though they weren’t exactly the ones Johnny B had.

As I watched more episodes it was obvious Johnny B also wore two pairs of white/gray Nike high top sneakers.  One pair was a more ordinary white/grey pair (figure 2) and the other were a very high pair that had a Velcro strap on the top portion (figure 3-1).  A sneaker store by my house did have the regular pair of Nike high tops, without the velcro strap, but they were around $65(USD) and I couldn’t afford those at the time.

Figure 2

Figure 3-1

The pair I really liked were the Nikes with the velcro strap that my friend Sean and I referred to as ‘ski boots’ (figure 3-2).  They appeared to have a velcro strap that went around the entire top portion and had what looked like a flap in front that went over the strap.  At least that’s how they looked on the lower resolution TV sets of the time.  About a year or so after Misfits Of Science was off the air a friend of mine showed up one day with a pair of red canvas Nike high tops (Vandals) with a velcro strap that went all the way around the top portion.  I assumed the strap was the same on Johnny B’s pair.  I looked for Johnny B’s Nikes with the velcro strap in every sneaker store I could but was never able to find a pair.  This particular pair of Nike’s eluded me for the next 3 decades.  I would always wonder what particular model these sneakers were and what they looked like up close.  The only other time I saw them was in a brief scene in the 1986 movie Soul Man.

Figure 3-2

Over 30 years passed and I had searched online a few times with no luck finding these sneakers.  A few months ago I came across the web site, Science Of Misfits.  What an amazing and comprehensive web site dedicated to one of my most beloved television shows, the Misfits Of Science.  Recently I contacted Janis Kunz who runs the site asking if she knew anything about these sneakers that Johnny B wore.  Janis did some research and helped me to discover exactly which sneakers they were.  They were Nike Double Team Hi’s.

A more than 30 year search had ended for me.  However my ‘myth’ regarding the velcro strap had been crushed, well maybe not exactly crushed but at least I now know the truth.  The velcro strap did not go all the way around the top of the sneaker as I had come to think all these years.  It’s a long strap that goes around the front of the sneaker and has a wider portion towards the outer edge where it attaches.  This wider portion is what I thought looked like the flap over the strap.  I immediately compared screen shots of Johnny B wearing these high tops and the images from the links I attached below and could now see how he wore them.  He didn’t tie the laces and simply stuck the ends of the velcro straps into the eyelets on the inside of the sneakers.  This gave the allusion that the velcro straps might have gone all the way around the top of the sneakers when in fact they did not.  I have to say that being a huge MoS fan all these years, it’s a relief finding all this out and finally seeing some up close pictures of these amazing high tops Johnny B wore.

Janis also helped me to remember the name of the other Nike high tops Johnny B wore that did not have a velcro strap.  They are Nike Airship Hi’s.  Even though I had seen these in person in the sneaker store back in 1985 I couldn’t remember the exact name.  After all it has been over 30 years since seeing them so it’s understandable.  A fun fact regarding Nike Airship Hi’s is they were actually worn by Michael Jordan before he got his signature ‘Air Jordan’ sneakers.  Both Johnny B and Michael Jordan wore these, how cool is that!

Deciphering which high tops Johnny B wore has been a long journey that has come to a satisfying end and led me to Janis’ awesome web site, Science Of Misfits.  I can’t wait to further delve into more of the facts and trivia regarding the Misfits Of Science.

Below are links to pictures of the Nike Double Team Hi’s.  I have to say they are an impressive looking pair of high tops, unlike most I’ve ever seen.




Here’s a couple of links to the Nike Airship Hi’s.



Below is a link that shows the New Balance 480 high tops.


Here I’ve compiled a list with the name of the high top sneakers Johnny B wore in each episode of the Misfits Of Science.

01-02. Deep Freeze – New Balance 480
03. Your Place Or Mayan? – New Balance 480
04. Guess What's Coming To Dinner? - New Balance 480
      & Nike Double Team Hi
05. Lost Link - Nike Double Team Hi
06. Sort Of Looking For Gina - Nike Double Team Hi
07. Sonar... And Yet So Far - Nike Airship Hi
08. Steer Crazy - Nike Double Team Hi
09. Fumble On The One – Nike Airship Hi
10. Twin Engines - Nike Airship Hi
11. Grand Theft Bunny - Nike Airship Hi
12. Grand Elusion - Nike Airship Hi
13. Once Upon A Night - Nike Airship Hi
14. Center Of Attention - Nike Airship Hi
15. Against All Oz - Nike Airship Hi
16. The Avenging Angel - Nike Airship Hi
17. Three Days Of The Blender - Nike Airship Hi

February 14, 2016

"I'm With Cupid" - a 'Misfits of Science' Valentine's Day ficlet


   Johnny B hurried down the hall to H.I.T. lab. When the boys from the lab called him for an emergency “only he could handle” he knew to get there fast – on Valentine’s Day or not.

   He jogged past Miss Nance’s desk which was so full of pink and white balloons, all sporting secret admirer tags, that she was completely hidden behind them. All he heard was a “Good morning, Mr. Bukowski” as he passed and pushed open the lab doors. 

   He stepped inside and looked around, expecting to see some sparking mass of scientific equipment on the verge of giving the basement a skylight. 

   Only… everything looked completely normal. 

   Well, normal for H.I.T. standards; he wasn’t sure why there was a Flock of Seagulls album being dunked in a fish tank by a volunteer wearing a scuba helmet, but he wasn’t going to go over and find out. 

   Billy and El were standing together working on an experiment of some kind involving a radio antenna, a table full of electronics, and an egg of Silly Putty. 

   “Hey, what’s the ‘emergency’?” Johnny B asked, walking toward his two friends in lab coats. He didn’t like being pulled from practice for no good reason… 

   As soon as Billy saw Johnny B he dropped what he doing. 

   “B-Man!” Billy exulted, stepping around the strewn table and over to Johnny B. “The B-Meister. The Fonz of the Modern Day. The Duuude of Coooool.” 

   Johnny B gave El a long-suffering look. They both knew Billy’s buttering up. El just shrugged and went back to the experiment. Billy put his arm around Johnny B’s shoulders and pulled him in conspiratorially.  

   “Can I ask you some advice?” 

   “Sure,” Johnny B replied, using one word to say ‘You can ask all you want, friend, but I give no guarantee I’ll answer until I find out what this is all about.’ 

   “What do you give a girl for Valentine’s Day?” If Billy had been wearing a tuxedo, he’d have been described as a nervous groom. 

   Johnny B considered for a moment. “What should you get Jane for Valentine’s?” Why beat around the bush? 

   “Well, maybe…” Which meant ‘Yes.’ 

   “Why ask me?” 

   “Are you kidding me? I mean, c’mon. You’re—you’re ‘Mr. Cool’ in leather and jeans. You’ve got the smooth groove going on. You’ve got girls falling at your feet.” Billy paused. “And besides, I’ve already asked everyone at work.” 

   Johnny B thought about all the girls in his past. In his past. “Yaknow, getting the girl and keeping the girl are two different things.” He continued when it looked like Billy was going to interrupt. “You’ve kept the girl, Hayes. You and Jane have something. She likes you, even in your condition,” Johnny B ended with a smirk. 

   Billy started at that. “My condition? What do you mean, my ‘condition’? Yaknow, not everyone can—” 

   Johnny B held up a hand. “Hey, I just meant it as an observation; I wasn’t trying to be mean. My point is: You and Jane really have something. So why not be yourself? It’s been working.” 

   “I dunno…” Billy said, unconvinced. He dragged his toe on the tile, thinking. 

   “Why not give the typical Valentine gifts?” Johnny B offered. He really did want to see Billy's predicament favorably solved. If just so Billy didn’t go around looking like a Pound Puppy. 

   Billy waved his hands in front of him like he was pushing away a proffered gift. “Chocolates? No way! Jane already thinks she’s fat. And, and, and—flowers? I don’t even know what her favorite kind are. I mean, I don’t wanna give her ones she’s gotten before and hates, yaknow.” 

   “Ask Gloria,” Johnny B said wisely. “I’m sure they’ve talked about it. She’d know.” 

   “Yeah right,” Billy rolled his head. “Like that would work. You know Glo – she’s young, she’s romantic – she’d probably have me down on my knee pro—she’s walking in the lab,” Billy finished, shutting up quickly. 

   Johnny B turned around and saw Gloria enter the lab. Jane was right behind her. Gloria had a bounce to her step; Jane was not so exuberant. Gloria stepped aside, with a smile on her face, leaving Jane in the open, with the floor so to speak. 

   “Hayes,” Jane began. “These are for you.” She stepped forward before she changed her mind and placed a bright-red, ribbon-sealed box of chocolates in Billy’s hands. 

   Billy stared in shock. “Wha-wha—What are these?” 

   “Happy Valentine’s Day, silly” Jane said instead of answering. 

   “But, but, I was going to…” 

   “It’s the 80’s, Hayes, the woman can take the lead,” Jane said pointedly, preventing Billy from putting his foot in his mouth. 

   Billy smiled; he liked it when Jane got righteous. He pulled the ribbon off the heart-shaped box, opened it, and pulled out one of little chocolatey clusters. “Nutty Buddies! My fave! How did you—” 

   Jane smiled, pleased, and Gloria beamed. Johnny B and El joined in the smiling, too. Johnny B playfully elbowed Gloria, with a smirk that said ‘I guess TK isn’t your only power.’ Gloria’s smiled broadened. 

   “Wow, thanks!” Billy gushed to Jane. He put his arm around her and gave her a ‘thank you’ peck on the cheek. 

   “You’re welcome,” Jane replied. 

   “No, really, thank you,” Billy said, meaning for more than the chocolates. He put his other arm around her and gave her a proper hug. His hand found its way to her belly and her baby bump and he pulled back. “Wait.” 

   Billy glanced at Johnny B. ‘Be yourself,’ huh? “Wait, I got something for you, too,” he told Jane. 

   Billy turned to a storage pile and began digging around. “I have it here somewhere.” He dug through a stack of overdue reports, searching. “I know it’s here, just a sec.” He lifted an old paper plate that probably could have been identified as having been used for lunch had it been analyzed fifteen days ago and pushed to the bottom of the stack. He finally pulled out what he was looking for. 

   Billy turned toward Jane and held up a tiny Misfits of Science tank top. The white shirt with pink and black lettering had been shrunk down to the size of an infant onesie. 

   Jane stared at it and put her hand to her mouth, tears forming in her eyes. “Oh, Billy,” she whispered. He accepted her. He accepted her past, and her mistakes. And he was willing to love her. He was willing to love both of them. And she had to admit that, even through all of his Billy-ness, Billy was the sweetest guy she had ever known. 

   “I kinda put it in the thermo-infuser instead of the dryer,” Billy said in an attempt to diffuse the moment. “So I thought, ‘Hey, this would be great foryaknow.’” 

   “Oh, Billy,” Jane repeated. She threw her arms around him and they embraced. Billy gave her more than a peck this time. 

   El laughed and gave the couple happy applause. Johnny B swept Gloria up in a ‘Way to go!’ electro-twister hug. Gloria looked even more happy than before and watched Billy and Jane. 

   It was at that moment that Dick Stetmeyer walked in the lab. His eyes went right to his head research scientist. Right to the position his head research scientist was in. A position that would make Cary Grant jealous. Although right now he'd rather it were Cary Grant – he wasn't on company time. “What is the meaning—?! 

   Before he could finish, El grabbed him by the shoulders and steered him into a tight U-turn, right back toward the door. “It’s for an experiment,” El excused, guiding Stetmeyer out.

    Love was an experiment. One that the world could use a lot more data collection on.