Look, I ain’t gonna front. I haven't a clue about anything that’s going on here this month and I'm not even about to pretend I do. I know, sounds weird coming from a guy who worked on Big Brother skate mag through the hey-daze of The Bong Olympics and Captain Stoney (RIP), but I was the straight-laced nerd of the crew who simply raised an unamused eyebrow at all the weedy puff pieces. Others enjoyed it, though, so who was I to rain on their big pot parade? Not to mention the fact all that stuff was infinitely more popular than the esoteric bullshit I was taking up valuable editorial real estate with, you know, stuff like snack cracker reviews and bi-monthly blow-by-blow recaps of the greatest TV saga ever, Beverly Hills 90210, all of which they were kind enough to let me do, so why not be kind in kind to the kine?
An editorial excerpt from Big Brother, Issue 12, when we packed everyone up in a van for the first time in the fall of 1994 and played hooky for two weeks under the guise of doing a tour article in the Midwest. Joey Boy is a roper.
Anyway, as most people now know and love or quite possibly loathe, we’re in the heady midst of a whole month of Todd Bratrud 420 fun and to not run at the mouth in another blahg post would just be plain rude of me. The fact is, few do it better than Todd—his work was responsible for relighting a fire under my ass when I suddenly woke up one day to the realization that I'd gone on autopilot for several years—and I'm pleased as purple haze he chose to share his celebrated legacy with us this year. And, furthermore I'm definitely not going to take any credit for any of what transpired, because Nick's the one who's been running point on this whole story with Todd. And boy oh boy, have they ever been running. Old and new characters, fuzzy flocked boards, screened-over slick bottoms, fresh shapes, an expensive-as-fuck long sleeve, embroidered patches, a joint collaboration with Oxford Pennant, maybe even a print if I can ever find out what’s going on with it… so yes, a fine 420 extraganza indeed.
These deluxe handcrafted camp flags by Oxford Pennant are all up for "pre-sale" right now, meaning you'll pay now but won't actually receive the finished product until sometime in June (see individual listings for further details).
There's a whole history behind it all, of course, much of it stemming from Todd's coveted designs for Nike SB over the past two decades. Most notably the Green Skunks, the Granddaddy Purple Skunks, the White Widows, and the infamous Strawberry Cough that was originally slated for an April 2020 release but ran afoul in its coinciding with a deadly respiratory virus primarily transmitted through coughing . Talk about bad timing, right? Especially if you're in the marketing department of a major corporation, that is, because I don't think the Coughs officially made it out of the purgatory patch and into the street fields until late 2021 or so .
Todd Bratrud really put his B into SB lore and these are just a 420 sampling of all he did for the brand over two decades.
I guess what I'm trying to get at is that the appeal for Todd's designs goes far beyond core skateboarding and he developed quite the following throughout the classic SB era. Unfortunately, skateboarding is the world we're most familiar with and the one we've had to keep an extremely wary eye on in terms of board production. Whether you're aware of it or not, shops have been awash with wood, companies are flush with inventory insanities, and it's straight up lord of the flies shit out here in the industry right now. Okay, so maybe that's verging on over the top high school theater club dramatics, but it is kind of cute how I think we're actually a part of the greater skateboard industry, isn't it? Perhaps the more popular misusage of the word(s) is more apropos in our case, where we're more "apart" of The Industry—whatever The Industry even is anymore. I guess a part of me still lives in the '80s when you had Leaders of Industry, aka, The Big Three—Powell-Peralta, Vision, and Santa Cruz/NHS—but this was also when skateboarding could be neatly compartmentalized into one tidy hardcore sect. Not the broken, fractured face of what it is today. Gasp! What's this? Am I… gate-keeping?!? No, not really, we haven't even got a gate to keep here and skateboarding is an ever evolving, unruly entity unto itself and exactly why I've loved it for the majority of my life now, but fuck me if I'll ever give a YouTube influencer the time of day, no matter how many gazillion views they may have.
Wait, where was I? I can't even say for sure anymore. Like it or not, slipping through time has become a routine part of my day where my mind will just up and wander off on its own and get lost in Tangental Thought Land… but more on that in May when we finally emerge from this smoke-filled month. Until then, thanks again, Todd! —Sean Cliver
A time and place in skateboarding, circa November 1994.
1. Little thing called COVID. You've probably heard of it. Killed nearly 7,000,000 people worldwide to date, over 1,000,000 in the US alone—unless of course you don't believe in things like this, you know, statistics and facts and such. RIP, Mark Waters.
2. I say "officially," because suspect bootlegs had definitely seeped into resale shops long before the authentic Coughs did.