Archive for February, 2019

Where The Counter Ends

February 24, 2019

Car crash, stomach bug, blackened glass methamphetamine pipe, who knows. ‘Muppet Show’ rerun. It should’ve been more than two people on. The hour wasn’t even so late, 8:30? Doesn’t it usually take more to count out and close? Even on a weeknight?

“No pickle. Is there sauce?”

“The special sauce.”

“Wait, yeah. What is that again?”

Now he girds for a lengthy discussion of mayonnaisal properties, squeeze bottle dispensal and federally protected trade secrets. Odds of any swift exit shriveling. He inhales loudly, stuffs his hands into his Dickies. A few more sweaty midafternoon sessions and they’d approach prime conditioning. They’d be good then.

“Is the food ready yet? Daddy?”

Unfortunately, it was. A dozen bite-sized portions of white poultry meat, uniformly breaded and deep-fried and housed within layers of recyclable cardboard, packed in napkins and rubbery tubes of pink yogurt and catsup packets destined to be thrown straight away. All of it already bought and paid for, less than ten feet away. Sitting four, five minutes now.

“Too much dairy I can’t do, so…” “Sir, we can take it off.” “What, you mean like scrape it off the bun? or…” “Sorry, I mean we can take it off your order–”

“Daddy!” And tugging on his sleeve.

Hands back out of his pockets. The chain-link fence bordering the old middle school ledges usually didn’t need to be climbed back then, since the padlock got set loose enough that you could pull the gate back part way and squeeze through. After a few afternoons of the custodian sidling up and sucking down a Newport before asking if they couldn’t move along, they stopped sweating the ‘No Trespassing’ sign. On the odd occasion the Crown Vics rolled by, not once did any cops climb out. They’d bleep the siren once or twice, and everybody moved on.

“Daddy — what are you doing?”

The grin he flashes her as he walked toward the counter’s end seems not to register, or do much to calm her increasingly horrified expression as he steps around and behind the polished steel barrier, crossing some fabled Rubicon separating server and guest. And no smile could convey what this one probably needs to: don’t worry, this is no big deal, I worked at a place like this for a few months a long time ago, we’ve already paid, nobody will mind. You know how daddy rides his skateboard? Sometimes I used to ride it at schools and behind stores and other places like that and sometimes… well, no, probably too early yet to get into ignorance as a defense, or the ethics behind hopping fences, or asking forgiveness rather than permission, that one a slippery slope for sure…

“Daddy!”

“What?” He has them now, fingers curled into the brightly colored cardboard handles. “They’re right here—“

“Sir.”

The manager’s hand firmly guides him by the upper arm back toward his proper side of the counter, draws him up from his reverie of overcast Saturday afternoons, walking fast away from spots as police turned onto the street a block down, reminding each other not to look back at the squad car. His head slowly bobs in quiet acknowledgment as the manager, business owner, security guard, police officer strings together words and admonishments and hand-waving gesticulations to make that same point: No. And next to him, his daughter in shock, on the verge of tears even.

In his hand though, the cardboard and chicken meat, the tricks, grainy footage, the BSing and fresh sneakers and crackling empty water bottles. And as he buckles her in, somewhere hearing her plaintive questions about if and how they would tell mom, he grins again.

Juicy J Is The Josh Kalis Of Rap Music

February 17, 2019

Jenkem, the Web 2.0 endeavour currently bidding to outlive its by-decades forebear TWS, recently saw fit to challenge social media’s persnickety algorithm-twiddlers with a Ride Channel-worthy list feature matching up pro skaters with celebrity rap singers, an exercise in debate-stirring that stirred obligatory debate in comments sections and other corners of our web-0-sphere. As a throne-sitting timekiller it functioned reliably, ranging from the defensible (Stephen Lawyer/Lil Pump) to the deeply incongruous (Dylan Rieder/Tupac), while overlooking obvious parallels such as Terry Kennedy/Terry Kennedy and, most criminally, Josh Kalis/Juicy J.

For several decades now Josh Kalis and Juicy J have lived out curiously concurrent career and life paths, a few of which this here blog technology will explore with immediate effect. Both are widely admired veterans of their respective crafts, wisely sticking to their lanes and rising above fickle and frothy trend-tides to maintain clout and even elevate their statures in what would otherwise be considered their professional autumn years. Both will forever be associated with mark-making as part of iconic crews, formed in their respective home bases: Josh Kalis burning Philadelphia onto the map with Stevie Williams, Anthony Pappalardo, Brian Wenning, Kevin Taylor and others among the Love Park squad; Juicy J in Memphis with DJ Paul, Project Pat, Lord Infamous, Crunchy Black and Hypnotize Minds. It’s possible that Juicy J recorded his famous song ‘Slob’ around the same time Josh Kalis 360 flipped the can for ‘Photosynthesis.’

The sometimes-knowing cartoonishness of Three 6 Mafia’s peak era, similar to the Love Park era-height swishies and bulk boots, remains respected for its honesty and has come to be celebrated, convincingly aped and at times even transcended by a generation that at best twinkled in their parents’ pupils when the original shit was going down. Josh Kalis and Juicy J, after staying loyal to their original outfits probably longer than they needed to, both wound up signing with their proteges. Sensing a niche for a codeine-guzzling, pill-swallowing elder statesman figure, Juicy J looked upon a young guard of doom-draped devil-worshippers not as competitors or pretenders to be squashed, but as fresh energy for collaboration, legacy-burnishment and money getting:

“Them guys are like family members, man. I was on Twitter and everybody was hitting me [like], “Yo, yo yo, you gotta check out these guys, man. $uicideBoy$, their music sound like y’all. It sound like old Three 6 Mafia.”

Josh Kalis too has embraced his uncle status among the Love Park-resuscitating Sabotage crew, risking Pennsylvania’s tax-dispute statute of limitations to contribute a part to volume 4, and helping put them and newly pro-decked John Shanahan on with DGK:

A lot of these guys, Shanahan specifically, are at the forefront of creating a new look with the old stuff. I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s his own interpretation of how he makes the mid-to-late 90’s-style look for him and that puts him in a lane of his own. He’s not copying me; he’s doing what John Shanahan likes. It’s taking some of the stuff we did or looked liked to the next level—-the John Shanahan level. His skating is like a better, more-modern twist of ’90s skate. Obviously he’s got way more pop than I’ve ever had.

Josh Kalis has only a handful of tricks in DGK’s new ‘Thoro’ vid, but his and Stevie Williams’ fingerprints are all over it as Dylan Sourbeer, John Shanahan, Kevin Bilyeu, Justin Adeniran and others stomp through Muni and assorted other Philly spots in an HD ‘Sabotage Lite’ masterminded by Brian Panebianco. The steadily sprawling DGK team here is distilled into an East Coast subdivision that occasionally veers into Washington and Chicago’s similar-looking inner-city plazas but never stays too long from those wax-smeared white benches and jumbo-sized board game pieces. Dylan Sourbeer goes end-to-end on an unbelievable backside nosegrind; Kevin Bilyeu deals out a meticulously flicked over-bin nollie flip that’s a QSTOP10 shoe-in; Justin Adeniran bangs a slow-twirling nollie hardflip into a bank and John Shanahan shove-its into various k-grinds and finally the pro ranks, for what seems like his third video part in six months or so.

Does Josh Kalis’ recent reunion with Michigander photog Mike Blabac presage a long-deferred and much-needed resumption of Juicy J’s musical partnership with DJ Paul? What does it say that Josh Kalis has got a brand-new pro model shoe out and not, say, Eric Koston? Will the kids right now in diapers and sock-shoes, who will inevitably one day revive John Shanahan and Brian Panebianco’s own retro stylings, be able to 3D print new Lynxes and Boxers or will they be forced to face off with laser swords at midnight in some Love Park replica to claim the handful of remaining deadstock pairs?

Watching For The Commercials In The Super Bawl Of Fantasy

February 3, 2019

Among the tangiest fantasies of the current, sportswear conglomerate-controlled era is the notion that skateboarders — long overlooked for their perseverance, pain threshold, creativity, daring precision — at last are recognized as equals to those jockstrap-equipped stadium-stuffers boasting major leagues, high exalted commissioners, and medical care generally unreliant on Superglue. It’s a charming tale of a ragged band of misfits made good, still rough around the edges but with hearts of gold, earning a seat for themselves at the big kids’ table of professional sport.

Much like the men, women and genderless robots of ‘Battlestar Galactica,’ who work together to overcome years of interstellar warfare to work toward harmonious human-robot relations of the diplomatic and carnal kind, it is a charming dream. But in this, our Year of the Pig, it remains only that. While majority league minimums in baseball, football and hockey variously challenge lower-tier talents to support a family on $535,000, $480,000 and $650,000, respectively, in skateboarding dudes are autofilling ridesharing applications and, if they’re lucky, receiving boxes with a suitable number of non-wack shoes to sell or trade.

Nevertheless! The most enduring and profitable entertainments find new ways of telling stories that already are well-knowed, if not necessarily true. On the eve of the world’s largest sporting event, Nike this week debuted a new video commercial file, portraying Eric Koston as a 40-something Tom Sawyer figure, mischievously creeping into the backyard of close bud Kyrie Irving to skate a coincidentally empty pool with a few of his closet friends from the 400-person Nike SB team. After Kyrie Irving’s high-cost technology system hips him to these skateboarders’ rascally plan, he uses the security-challenged Apple FaceTime technology to engage Eric Koston in lighthearted banter, humorously admonishing him to ‘call first.’

The commercial on its merits is fine, if bland. Its main misstep is propelling an unconvinced audience into a fantasy land where multimillionaire NBA stars and pro skaters are jovial, back-slapping peers — a story, perhaps, that Nike likes to tell itself. But remember, it’s the NBA player’s mansion and pool, not Eric Koston’s.

A better path would be for Nike to recognize and satirize the already lopsided dynamic. Eric Koston, Lance Mountain and Alex Olson slouch in an office doorway facing a mid-level Nike marketing official, who tells them they need to come up with a concept for a Nike skateboarding commercial — “some ramp stuff that’ll play in the Midwest,” he barks before slamming shut the door. Out in the hallway, Kyrie Irving walks by with his entourage, on his phone loudly scheduling pool cleaners for the upcoming weekend when he’ll be out of town. The Nike SB riders look at one another and begin texting their teammates.

Cut to the session at Kyrie Irving’s freshly emptied pool, where Eric Koston peels off a roll of bills (tens and fives, naturally) for a couple of lounging pool cleaners, while Lance Mountain, AO and others film tricks.

Cut to the following Monday, where Eric Koston delivers the edited footage to the grouchy Nike marketing official. They put it on in his office, and Kyrie Irving again passes by with his entourage in the hallway — but this time Kyrie Irving looks in and stops, staring at the screen. Eric Koston slumps down in his chair as Kyrie Irving looks from the screen to Koston, back to the screen. Kyrie Irving gives Koston a quizzical look: “Wait, you work here?” The commercial ends.

Did skateboarder’s hopes for a professional minimum salary level die along with Rob Dyrdek’s dreams for a skaters’ union? Does there exist a ‘rough cut’ of Nike’s commercial in which Kyrie Irving clowns Eric Koston for not having a video game character in the last 10 years’ worth of THPS titles? Is this commercial ripe for parody by the remaining aggressive inline rollerbladers, except where they’re barging Lance Mountain’s backyard pool?