Agenda & New Waves
by Justin “Scrappers” Morrison
Chapter 1: Agenda
The big black man humming soul music grabbed my neck as if to give me a deep massage, but instead he tilted my head the angle he wanted it at. He looked at me with his one blind eye and leaned into my head with clippers so rough it felt like an electric sander digging into raw wood. I just closed my eyes and thought about how this moment would pass. The barber just hummed his soulful tune. At random moments he would open his mouth and let the most tender song bellow out. I opened my eyes and saw him coming at me with a pair of scissors the way a mechanic would lean into an engine with a wrench. He snipped my beard hairs with short fast snips pulling his hand back with each cut to see how it was shaping up.
My fear turned to admiration. This man was a seasoned professional in the middle of his work. He was at the triumphant peak of his skill set. I've worked hard all my life, so I know the feeling when I see it. I was lucky to be so close to that magic moment when a person and their work come together so monumentally. I’ve never had such an excellent hair cut. He cut hairs I never had cut before (not pubic hairs, you perv). Afterwards I looked in the mirror and saw that I had become a man. The barber shop is named Victorious and that’s exactly how they made me feel.
I didn’t come to California’s port city of Long Beach to get in touch with my manly feelings though, I came here for the Agenda Trade Show. I’ve been to trade shows before, but this time I walked in with a victorious hair cut. So as I met with sales reps, surfboard shapers, graphic designers, even marketing managers I tried to see them in the same light as I did that one-eyed barber; professionals in the middle of their work. I lost myself in the glory of what they do. Here’s a little bit about the people I met with:
Weird Shit: I don’t understand a lot of what I saw, but I was happy to be around it.
I missed seeing some brands I normally would have because another trade show (Outdoor retailer) changed its date to happen at the same time as Agenda. Much like me, exhibitors had the problem of choosing between the two shows. If budget allowed, some exhibitors found a way to be in two places at the same time. There is really no comparing the two shows because only one of them happens in Long Beach. Long Beach is fucking awesome!
Chapter 2: New Waves in Long Beach
Strolling down the isles of Agenda I bumped into Kat and crew from Make Collectives. They reminded me how much I love their shop’s part of Long Beach (East Village Arts District), so I left the trade show and headed that way. Last time I was in town we had a release party at Make Collectives. Exhibitors from Agenda came, our readers came, and the wonderful community of friends that Make Collectives nurtures came too. You can read all about it here.
Sterling (fondling the board above) told me that the breakwater wall that keeps waves from forming in this part of Long Beach is coming down. Surfing is coming back to Long Beach! Seriously, think about that. Since the 1950’s Long Beach’s cultural identity has evolved to not have actual surfing down the street and now it will. Locals will be at the beach with tears rolling down their cheeks as new waves break. I’m tearing up just thinking about Sterling and what these new waves mean for him. Read more about it from Surfrider.
New waves in Long Beach will have some negative effect too. Its going to open the gates to some heavy gentrification. New people will move into the neighborhood. Rent will go up. Low-income creative people and families will be forced out. Shops that are there now will have to close. Change is natural, you can’t keep it from happening, but you can change with it and influence the outcome. It’s like we’re tied to a wagon going down hill. We can be sad and get dragged along, or rise up, get in front of it and guide its course.
The Academy is one of the shops along with Make and Seams that is going to keep this neck of the woods sweet and sincere in the face of gentrification. I had no idea what I was getting into when I walked through their door. I saw taxidermy, bike parts, an old globe, nice clothes, and vintage mechanical equipment. A guy named Sam was busy hammering away on some leather, but he stopped to tell me about these turquoise pants I was checking out. He said they used to be white, but he died them to be the color of a rock he dug out of the ground. Sam cut and sewed the pants to be my exact size and attached the buttons I picked out. Just like the barber at Victorious, Sam was a seasoned professional in the middle of his work. He was at the triumphant peak of his skill set. I was honored to watch him work.
Starting out as a repair shop the Academy learned to make clothes by repairing them. They learned what parts of the pants are most likely to break, so they made those parts stronger. It’s all about learning, that’s why they call it The Academy.
The Academy makes a World Peace Shirt that features the national flower from every country in the world. If you research the meaning behind each country's national flower you’ll see they all mean something optimistic. How could they not, flowers spread seeds.
Sam said this one thing that sums up the whole Agenda Long Beach experience, “you build a community when you care about what you sell.”
The next day before I flew back to Portland Oregon I found an unlocked door that lead to a rooftop. The sun was rising and we were all about to walk into the light of a new day.
All the makers, skaters, surfers, brand marketers… heck even the barber I met on this trip were all super inspiring to be around because they care about what they’re doing.
“All that exists is the seed of what will emerge from it.”
-Marcus Aurelius (some stoic ancient Roman dude)
Free Goods: When you go to a trade show you get free goods and boy-oh-boy did I get some goods! I’m keeping a lot of it, but I want to share this bag of goods with you. Win it from our Instagram later this week.
What's in the bag: Sanuk + Stone brewing collab sandals (size 10), Sanuk wallet, Big Bud Press enamel pin, Beast & Bongs zine from Michael C. Hsiung , Worn Wear: patch, MEI Ocean: hat, Brothers Marshall hat, Patagonia beer coozie, and other patches, stickers, and stuff. Oh, and the bag is a special Agenda + Herschel bag.