An Imaginary Time-Traveler’s Reckoning on Winner Status, and Dylan Sourbeer’s Line Holding the T-Shirt In His Hand

“When I got to Alabama it was every bit as bad as I thought it was going to be. I was the only skateboarder in my school and I was seriously teased to such a gnarly degree,” career burler Jamie Thomas reminisced to the Nine Club hosts this week, describing a sneering ostracization known to Middle America skaters coming of age in the late 1980s. “I was really intimidated. It was a lot of jocks and preps and it was a lot of them and only one of me. I was completely by myself. It was like being in the prison yard.”

Whether Jamie Thomas the alienated high school freshman would recognize his weathered, lionized and moustachioed self nearly 30 years later is a question best addressed through a sci-fi buddy film centered on antiquated communication technologies. Were such a time-hopping Yung Chief to stumble through those folding, see-thru doors into our modern landscape, it would doubtless appear disorienting and off. In this world, foreign governments make unsolicited offers to pay skaters to quit their day job and skate for years at a time. The dude who filmed Rubbish Heap is an Oscar laureate, on the same professional level as Martin Scorcese and Three 6 Mafia. The Wall Street Journal reports that international skateshop chain Supreme is worth a billion dollars, surpassing preppy mainstay Abercrombie & Fitch. And Palace has invented a machine that takes in fashionistas’ pounds sterling and spits out long-dead hallowed grounds.

Would we forgive our imaginary, time-traveling underclassman JT for thinking that skateboarders, over the past thirty years, had secured some sort of ‘Bad News Bears’- or ‘Revenge of the Nerds’-style victory over oppression — when Nike, that decades-long guiding light to the world’s ‘jocks,’ now builds skateparks and revives spots, and skateboarders run tastemaking TV channels? Could the bliss injected by such emancipation from high school’s social gaol overpower nagging, murmured questions over any sense of shared struggle lost when a countercultural tribe finds that prefix effectively erased?

Were those misgivings enough to obscure the marvels of sassy digital assistants and movies streamed in high definition to pocket-sized telephones, our imaginary, time-traveling teenage Jamie Thomas may have hit the road – to Philadelphia, where late 1990s throwback shoes, denim and pinner decks sprouted from the cracks of a dormant scene over the past ten years from the sort of soil that’s becoming an endangered habitat as inner cities scrub up and gentrify. Here, skateboarding’s ‘loser’ status remained time-capsule intact, huddled among various drunks, junkies and lurkers on a couple blocks’ worth of concrete and stone that never seemed much needed by city officials, salaried professionals or money-folding tourists. Here, skateboarding failed to ascend society’s greasy rungs, despite a direct appeal from Love Park’s designer, the X-Games’ civic endorsement and a $1 million offer from newly flush DC Shoes to legitimize skating that was going on anyway and free cops to pursue other crimes.

It is this bitterest pill – Love Park’s final destruction — that Philadelphia’s Sabotage crew pops into their mouth, grinds between their teeth, swallows and then licks their cold-cracked lips in the fifth installment of one of the rawest video series going. From start to finish ‘Sabotage 5’ is a gloriously losing war against capitulation to the inevitable. Like any decent funeral, this eulogy is delivered by the immediate family, rather than transient pros, with the locals turning in their last tapes skating Love Park as it was, and a grip of tricks as it is dismantled. Zach Panebianco’s part opens with a fence hop to eleventh hour fountain ollie, and closes with another jump deeper into the park’s then-exposed guts. Brian Panebianco, who along with Ryan Higgins has done more than anybody to elevate the downtown Philly scene, goes two songs deep and switch varial heelflips the ‘little’ stairs onto some straggler sections of tile. Joey O’Brien, last seen in ‘Sabotage 4’ tunneling beneath Love for one of the most memorable lines there ever done, captures the backside bigspin that eluded Mark Suciu; Brian Douglas regulates the levels between filming last-weekend lines; and Tore Bevivino links some brain-scrambling moves across the fountain ledges. It is Dylan Sourbeer who gets in the last licks, at times doing his own dismantling of Love Park’s blocks and steel to open up new angles — and deservedly closing down one of these vids with a deep supply of ledge lines, a lengthy nosegrind across the exposed dirt and a can-topping kickflip from one propped-up tile to another that carries some type of finality. Some chest-puffing moments of defiance pop up – “it don’t look over to me” goes one lurker’s memorable exhortation – but by the muted closing section, it is clear which side won.

Would our time-traveling underclassman Jamie Thomas, after shaking ‘Sabotage 5’s technical ledgery from his mind, find in Love Park’s final chapter some sour recognition of the outcast status he once lived? Would the cut of Kevin Bilyeu’s jeans at least look familiar? Did yall catch this clip of Brian Wenning and Josh Kalis skating Muni the other day? Does a year burdened with melancholy and loss, make ‘Sabotage 5’ more affecting than it might otherwise have been? Does Dylan Sourbeer’s line at Muni holding the t-shirt in his hand provide a new benchmark for future human achievement?

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3 Responses to “An Imaginary Time-Traveler’s Reckoning on Winner Status, and Dylan Sourbeer’s Line Holding the T-Shirt In His Hand”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    JT, dont forget to wind your watch!

  2. thejunkpirate Says:

    I’m just disappointed the Chief didn’t talk about
    1) That Transworld interview that was shot all in one day, where he had shaved his eyebrows.
    2) Being banned from Thrasher

  3. Chew Says:

    I’ve always looked forward to your Sabotage reviews.

    You should show the Threads Idea Vacuum crew the same love. As a long time reader and fan of this blog, I think you would like them and that they’re worthy of your attention.

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