the 2022 year end wood review

Every so often I'll stop and think, "What the fuck, dude. You're doing this all wrong," but that's entirely apropos for me and my mental Thunderdome, where I'll often go toe-to-toe with my own worst enemy: myself. The fact remains, however, that StrangeLove is indeed a very unconventional company and one I tend to treat more like an extension of myself and not some anonymous entity devoid of voice and personality. Not that this should come as any great surprise, I suppose, because it's long been the MO of my "career" ever since the pre-school days of Big Brother skateboard magazine [1].

For today's particular instance, though, in an innocuous blahg post where I'm supposed to take a trip back through 2022 and make glib, lighthearted comments about our board production, I'm instead going to launch into an odd anecdote circa 1995 when I lived in Hermosa Beach, CA, with Jeff Tremaine and a revolving door of house guests that included anyone and everyone from Chris Pontius to Dave Carnie, Kendra Gaeta, Rob "Whitey" McConnaughy, Simon Woodstock, Harold "McGoo" McGruther, or any number of Tremaine's friends from his former frat house at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. That said, strap in, because here we go back in time as I once again proceed to break all conventional company rules.

Once upon a time in the South Bay, Hermosa Beach was a dirty little gem of a hole. Bordered by the posher communities of Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach, Hermosa was the sweaty armpit between the two with a pier district that still had a fair degree of crusty salt left in its nightlife game [2]. On our infrequent nights not spent in the trenches at the office, we would generally start out at the Mermaid, a divey bar situated on the most prime of prime beachfront real estate, but our foul mouths typically ran afoul of the barkeep who had a surprisingly low tolerance for those with exceptionally blue mouths. From there we would inevitably drift up to Sangria, a sweaty night club catering to those who ecstatically lost their shit whenever the DJ dropped Kool & The Gang's "Celebration" onto the dance floor. Our presence amid the happy-go-lucky beach people was no more welcome here than down at the Mermaid, but at least Tremaine had a more amicable relationship with Sangria's barkeeps so our silly antics were tolerated for the most part.

On one particular messy and memorable evening, though, our group was out front of Sangria long after last call when some jerk made a derogatory comment toward our friend Rob. Granted, Rob was being a high-spirited loudmouth, just like the rest of us, but the jabbing gist of this person's racist nib was centered around the fact Rob's skin was browner than any other drunk's milling about—and I don't mean that in a Coppertone tan sense. Rob's very much of South Asian Indian stock.

We were dumbfounded, of course, what with us all possessed by the harmless spirit of buffoonery, so this was very much out of left field. I responded by pointing directly at the guy and let loose a loud, braying, donkey laugh. You see, through careful observation and practical experience, I'd learned the best way to deal with irate individuals is to parry with absurdity. And it worked. The dimwit's face screwed up in confusion before he finally blurted out, "What the fuck are you laughing at, you fucking Jew!" This made me laugh all the harder—again, a rather unexpected reaction judging from his even more perplexed expression—because I'm genealogically the furthest thing away from a Jew owing to my entirely European Christian heritage. So I can only surmise he arrived at this snap assessment based on the purely physical fact of a somewhat more prominent nose being situated on my face? Whatever the stereotypical case, the situation soon diffused as his friends directed his dumbassery elsewhere and we continued on our merry, stumbling way home.

Obvious though it may be, I should still point out that I totally understand I had the luxury of being able to laugh in such a situation and how it would've landed entirely different with someone of actual Jewish descent. Naive though it may sound, I guess it was baffling to me in the moment that such intolerant vitriol would even be spewed in the mid-'90s, but... well... here we (Ye?) are now in 2022, which brings me to the reason for dredging this story up and how it actually does relate to a few of our new graphics. Over the past year, I've acquired a couple "admirers" on Instagram who apparently believe that I am Jewish and a devotee of the Talmud [3], a seemingly "logical" conclusion jumped to by… well, gosh, I'm not exactly sure? But I think it has something to do with an inability to understand the basic foundations of satire and any social commentary purpose thereof. And, quite possibly, the very nose on my face given the flagrantly ignorant and ugly odds of the USA today, which is indeed, and quite unfortunately, no laughing matter [4].

And on that cheery note… wood. I've got like one or two paragraphs at most left in me to wrap up a whole year's worth of output, but you know what they say. A picture is worth a thousand words and this here's 40 pictures, so by my simple math you're looking at no less than 40,000 words and that's a visual fuckton for your eyeballs to digest. So I'll keep it short—and by short I mean one last sentence filled with so many punctuation horrors and grammatical tragedies that it'll be akin to a grisly 52-car pileup—and leave it at this: We had a lot of fun in 2022 with our friends (thanks, Todd! thanks, Chris! thanks, Dave! thanks, Aaron!) and produced a lot of the same ol' same ol' you've come to expect, love, or quite possibly loathe from us, but we also threw in some curveball logo boards (hey, you never know until you know), brought back some old favorites (again, you never know until you know), teamed up with some favorites of ours (thanks, Natas! thanks, Clyde! thanks, Ray! thanks, Stratosphere! thanks, Side Effect!), and tacked on a year end twist to the line with a couple new pro models to take us on into 2023 (congratulations, Tim! congratulations, Max!).

It's no secret that the economic climate has been a real ache in the taint for the skateboard industry and shops this past year—compounded by a certain amount of mass hysteria and irrational exuberance coming off the collective heady high of a pandemic-induced boom—but just like Elton John, we're still standing (yeah, yeah, yeah). So, as always, a sincere thank you from Nick Halkias and myself to everyone who continued to support our li'l brand and keep the dream alive and kicking with minimal screaming (unless we're talking squeegees, in which case we did A LOT of screening). So until next year's drops start to dribble out… happy holidays! —Sean Cliver

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1. This year I've become acutely aware that just because I live like yesterday was 1992, many others do not. In fact, many weren't even born yet, which baffles to me no end, of course, because 1992 was yesterday... wasn't it? Well, it wasn't, it never will be, and there's a whole cornucopia of arrested development issues of mine that can be traced back to the very moment I ran away from adulthood and joined Steve Rocco's circus—a fantastic petri dish of unsupervised personalities that soon spawned a renegade sideshow spearheaded by Tremaine and later joined by Johnny Knoxville and the eventual birth of the pop-culture poop troupe known as Jackass, which has continued all the way into 2022 and even unleashed a monster of a guest model on StrangeLove—see what I did there? That's right, I brought it back full circle and successfully deflected my introspection away from a psychological issue I'd rather not face head on and deal with in a responsible, mature manner to instead land on a big fucking dick joke. Story of my life.

2. Hermosa Beach underwent a major cosmetic makeover decades ago, wiping away a lot of the barnacles and grime that had subsisted in its pier district.

3. I'll be honest, I had no idea what the Talmud even was until I looked it up on Wikipedia, the Peoples' Dictionary (and no, I did not make a two dollar donation for a crash course in the Hebrew scripture).

4. Ironically, after deleting a few rather asinine anti-semitic comments left on an IG post of mine, I was accused of "fascism." So it goes.


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