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

Awkward Cheek Kiss Greetings


The other day, I was shooting this thing at the new agnes b, store in SoHo. They are rotating art installations through the store there, and are currently featuring the work pictured above (among other items). Anyway, the PR person who organizes these openings is a really cool lady. At the last one that I went to, I ended up talking to the woman for at least a half hour.

The other night when I showed up, I walked over to say hi and she leaned in for the cheek kiss. PS, this is totally normal practice for this scene. I grew up doing handshakes and high-fives. And I have to admit that I was a bit caught off guard when I first moved to NY and people were doing the cheek kiss thing. I was like, “what is this, France or something?” But over the years I have grown accustomed to it, and even tried to learn how to do it without being totally awkward. But the problem is, I can’t.

My friend Mike, who was born and raised in southern CT has the greeting down pat. He makes it look so easy. I really envy that. When I was in Spain recently, some of our friends there, even gave me some pointers, on how not to mess it up so badly. But inevitably, every time someone opts to do the cheek kiss thing with me, I either end up giving an accidental headbutt, or else actually planting one on the cheek (you are supposed to kiss the air).

So, I apologize to the very nice PR girl and countless others over the years who have been the recipients of my poorly executed attempts at the cheek kiss greeting. One of these days, hopefully I can get it down. Maybe I’ll watch some instructional youtube videos.