The Youth Are Restless and Olds Aren't Listening

In 1989—a year before running an advertisement lambasting small companies and setting off a war with World Industries—Powell Peralta ran this ad, seemingly taking a shot at the Alva Posse.

With Mike Vallely as their premier street pro, PP’s ad was misguided—they were punching down. Alva was a successful company but not a threat to Powell and trying to bash the “bad boy” image did nothing other than making them look like fucking nerds. Powell then fired shots at World Industries via a second ad and oh boy, that didn’t work out.

See below.

Shortly after this ad ran, bLind Skateboards ran the infamous “Dear George” ad, effectively turning Powell Peralta into the Steve Buschemi meme the moment it hit the racks. It’s also worth noting that everyone who appeared in the “small companies are cut” ad ended up riding or forming… small companies. Funny enough, Tony Hawk’s Birdhouse, and bLind are standing in 2020, as well as Powell Peralta.

Yes, bLind has lasted that long without Mark Gonzales and no one is really sure how that’s a thing. (that being said, Kevin Romar is sick)

Had to send one to flat real quick 📨! #Nollie360
📸 @cameronspitzer_
March 20, 2020

So while I don’t really have much insight or desire to analyze why a post-Reaper bLind still thrives, Birdhouse, and Powell Peralta’s presence is much easier to quantify.

Birdhouse (Projects) never tried to be cool and by eschewing any attempts to be edgy they eventually found their place, mostly with bright cartoonish graphics and excellent skateboarding. Much like Toy Machine, they leveraged the shitty charm of ‘90s computer graphics and raw edits in their videos, putting out a string of short VHS cassettes before releasing The End (1998) and going back to the big-budget cinematic presentation of Powell’s Stacy Peralta directed projects.

What’s glossed over is that post-Stacy Powell actually put out some solid videos with Celebrity Tropical Fish (1991) being a highlight for the late Pat Brennan’s footage alone. If you’re not familiar, Brennan’s skating was the equivalent of a stoic Brian Lotti.

Powell’s proprietary wheel formula and Swiss Bearings were enough to keep them moving and while they never fully returned to the hard goods brand they were in the ‘80s, by embracing their heritage and not trying to be anything but the company with really cool skulls who also makes the best bearings in the history of skateboarding, they will be a part of the story until they decide they aren’t.

So what’s the learning here?

Brands need to be what they are.

When World ceased to be what they were, they faded.

Zoo? Same story.

Santa Cruz fumbled at being a cutting edge street brand but as soon as they went back to their classic aesthetic, they found their footing.

Could you imagine Fucking Awesome trying to pivot to anything but being FA? Or Palace suddenly sponsoring ATV’s with mesh hats and hiked up socks? Yeah. No.

This is why “Legacy Brands” don’t know what in the fuck is going on right now.

These are companies owned by people who didn’t grow up during unrest, who felt doughy during the Clinton administration, so much so that when the George W. Bush regime enacted war for imaginary reasons, no one did shit other than march around a few times. And, after eight years of that bullshit, they/we all felt OK again because the first Black President was elected and everything was copacetic until it wasn’t.

And here we are.

When you look at how Fucking Awesome, Quasi, Palace, and Frog or have responded to the moment versus legacy brands, the divide is huge. The legacy brands are holding on, while new brands are operating without guardrails.

The legacy brands are posting apologies while the young brands are putting out calls to action.

It’s that simple. Silence does make you complicit.

The younger brands don’t censor or spend weeks penning a response because they realize that time is a construct and being activated has more value.

Fuck a spreadsheet or meeting, if you have to think about how to respond to the slaughter of innocent Black people, then you already wrote your response.