It's about life - not "lifestyle"
|Since I've been warned that failure to turn in this column will result in revocation of my party invite for Saturday, I thought it only fit to set the kitchen timer and give it my best 10 minutes. Rant and roll, as they say. And the subject? How about the venerable OP Cord Shorts!
A recent Los Angeles Times Business section article chronicled the return of the seminal OP cord shorts. It was a classic article, full of self-loathing rag merchants rubbing their hands together in anticipation of getting some "invisible generation" dollars by selling them a product they would never wear themselves. As usual with the surf industry, where the money pipeline (the only pipeline that really counts in the "Sport of Kings") is involved there has to be selective amnesia.
A good case could be made that, after good quality surf trunks, it was the OP cord shorts which really made the surfwear industry. Prior to the OP cords you pretty much had to get that design in Hawaii at places like Liberty House or one of the other local stores. They were incredibly comfortable, nothing fell out of your pockets, and if you screwed up and hit the beach without trunks and found good surf, they would do in a pinch if they absolutely had to. At a certain period a pair of cord shorts were markers of someone who had made the trip, so to speak, the same as those grass tatami slaps.
OP made this a sub-cultural cachet thing during it's original heyday, the Bertlemann era (that's his bodyless shape in the current OP ads). By the time they locked in Tom Curren, the cord shorts had added that terrible elastic waist, making them eventually lose their shape and fall off the ass-less. You had to have a butt like Barney the Dinosaur to keep them on if you were over 15 years old.
Regardless, that obsolesence is certainly the name of the game in the garment world of today. Most of the people interviewed in the Time's article were intent on segregating the elderly, going on record with comments like the following:
"My uncle wears shorts like that," (14 year old Christian) Rodriguez said, and he's "like 52."
"I wouldn't wear them, I'm too scared." - Trent Armstrong, manager of Becker Surf and Sport.
"Marketing to the younger generation is all about extremism and individuality"
Marshall Cohen, co-president of NPD Fashion World.
"This is one of those things that, try as you may to kill the item, it just wouldn't die," said Andrew Leichuk, a senior vice president at OP.
"...a guy wearing a tool belt with hair growing out of his ears" - Alain Mazer, OP spokesman.
Last word on the Op matter comes from Nat Norfleet, OP design director, about the re-location of the back pocket from the earlier left side to the current right side.
"We get six calls a month about the pocket. These guys are 55 years old, and they're totally upset."
Pretty good stuff, eh? Makes you want to go out and spend some money. I didn't even put in the quotes from the San Francisco merchants. But screw them all, each and every one. The "55 years old" comment is what brings me to my next subject. On the same day as this "business" article was a lead entertainment piece confirming the radically bleak announcement about the health of rocker Warren Zevon, who at age 55 appears to be well on the way to achieving what so many surfing money grubbers want all 55 year olds to do: passing away.
Diagnosed with incurable lung cancer, the darkly humorous Zevon is facing his own mortality with typical grace and wit. He is also planning to carry on with his art, and is recording new material probably as fast as he can. The actual article got away from me, but I recall his comment lamenting the fact that this kind of time limitation "lowers the bar considerably" for what he might consider acceptable quality of recording or material.
Considered a rock and roll creature of the 1970's, Zevon was introduced to the public at large usually by his signature song "Werewolves Of London", which Jackson Browne played during a 1975 concert tour. Shortly thereafter Linda Ronstadt had a hit with "Poor, Poor Pitiful Me".
A lot of fun, Warren Zevon. Wish him the best.
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