On “rad”

[above: some photos of youngish me, when I freely used the word “rad”]

Unfortunately, this post is not a synopsis of the 1986 BMX movie RAD. Instead, it is actually a carryover from a discussion that originally took place on Facebook. I posted a semi-priggish blurb about people trying to bring back 80’s skate culture vernacular. It has the same effect on me, as if my mom would have said “gnarly” to me when I was 6th grade. I would have been disgusted, and probably dropped the word from my vocabulary. Not that there was anything wrong with my mom. But I mean, from an adolescent point of view parents tend to fall short when it comes to pushing the boundaries of social trends. Such has been my experience when hearing the term in question used by unlikely individuals describing things that certainly would not have been considered “rad” by the 1989 version of myself.

Anyway, I have noticed the term “rad” coming back pretty strongly over the last while. Overall, I think it is great. But, from my observations it appears that the connotation of rad has evolved from the days of yore, when it was was a frequent (probably too frequent) part of the jargon that poured out of my adolescent mouth. I’m considering re-adding “rad” to my conversational vocabulary. But first of all, I need to make sure that I fully understand what constitutes “rad” in 2011. So, I’m going to include a little survey below, to try and gain a better understanding of what rad means, based on how (and by whom) I have heard it used, as of late.

Which, if any, of the following items could be considered “rad” in 2011?

  1. Brooks Brothers
  2. Knife fights
  3. Shark fin soup
  4. Shark attacking a bear
  5. “Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffet
  6. “Anarchy in the UK” by the Sex Pistols
  7. Drinking Starbucks, while perusing your collection of old Domino Magazines
  8. Eating Dominoes pizza while perusing your collection of old Thrasher Magazines
  9. The Bieber movie
  10. Search for Animal Chin
  11. Taking your foam roller with you on vacation
  12. Taking your machete slingshot with you on vacation
  13. Rodeo Drive
  14. Rodeo flips
  15. Baking
  16. Breakin’
  17. Xanax
  18. X-games
  19. House Cats
  20. Laser Cats
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  1. Haha, I have thought the same thing. I have seen female, prissy, conservative un-rad bloggers say rad, and I’m like, “really? you can’t pull that off.” I’d feel like an idiot/poser saying it.

  2. In our house, we use “rad” the same way we would use “cool”. Neither my husband or I were ever skaters, so we are probably using it incorrectly – but it sounds cute when my girls say it.

  3. @Michelle: Dude, I’m sure that you aren’t using it wrong. This post is a joke. Who am I, the “rad” sheriff? Hahaha. I’m sure that it is adorable when your girls use it.

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