No FearSeptember 9, 2008
I used to live on the water, on the ground floor of an old lake house. This was about 1992 or so. It was a quiet year – writing, swimming, canoeing … We liked it. Until the Bad Boys Club moved in next door.
These were three guys with those spiky mullet haircuts, wraparound shades, fake tans, jet-skis, Mustangs and Jeep Renegades. All their vehicles had ‘Bad Boy Club’ decals on the rear windows, and they liked to roar in and peel out, all together, to drive to the tavern down the road. We could actually watch them drive, in convoy, the 300 yards to get plastered. You remember guys like this. There were a lot of high-fives.
We moved away before they did, but I remembered them – they took the concept of ‘dude’ to a whole new level. So I was not surprised when, a year or two later, they turned up in the next town over, like I had. They opened a store in our city’s decaying, half-empty downtown shopping mall. I was able to watch this all because it was just down the aisle from the coffee shop where, as a reporter, I spent most of my time.
Basically, what the Bad Boys’ Club did was this: they put five used Sea-Doos in an old clothing store, set up a rack of wetsuits and waterskis, put skateboards on the wall and played rap music at full crank.
They called the place No Fear Sports. A big sign was hung outside the store, a gleaming, gorgeous laser-carved wooden replica of the No Fear logo, about six feet across. That sign was a work of art. Based on the sparse decor inside the store, this was where the Bad Boys spent all their startup funds,
The problem with the No Fear Sports store was a simple one: No Fear is a brand name. It belongs to someone else (a clothing manufacturer). So within a few weeks, the Bad Boys Club had to change the name of their store. I suspect a letter was sent. I remember a day when the music seemed quieter and the Bad Boys were just kind of milling around, looking confused.
One of them took down the sign and, for a day, the sound of power saws could be heard from the back of the store. And then, just in time for weekend shopping, the new sign was up, with the letters carved up and rearranged: No Fish Sports.
The store vanished for good about a month later.
I was reminded of this recently when Skottie Young and Casey McCauley, who host The Devil & Me podcast, sent out a solicitation for listeners to photograph remaining No Fear stickers. Casey and Skottie basically linked the No Fear brand to a certain kind of dumb macho mentality, which they call ‘bro,’ and they were right. I didn’t see any No Fear that week, but lately I’ve been seeing it again.
Also, I saw a guy high-five another guy last night as they pulled up alongside each other at a red light. One had a jeep, one had a motorcycle. The one on the bike said ‘Hey, bro!’ as they slapped hands.
I think I have to move.