Posts Tagged ‘Coliseum’

PJ Ladd, Bearing the Weight of History’s Expectations Amid a Multiyear Video-Part Drought, and Also Some Discussion of Mystical Bears and Their Rumored Powers

July 23, 2017

In Richard Adams’ ‘Shardik’ a primitive people discover a long-prophecized god-bear, departed many generations earlier. The plus-sized mammal is worshipped by some and denounced as a property-wrecking menace by others, ultimately sowing divisions and touching off armed conflict before going on to collect royalty payments and licensing fees for use of his likeness by various professional sports teams and honey vendors. It is a lesson for our times and enshrined in our country’s tightest document, the USS Constitution.

Raised among Boston’s bruins, PJ Ladd is among the skating tribe’s most prodigal sons, gifted immense talent which he may not necessarily have squandered in the post-‘Really Sorry’ years — but certainly has been hidden beneath a bushel, to trangress into the deadly sin of proverb-mixing. It is inaccurate to claim he’s had no parts since — there was Es shoes’ last full-length gasp, a noteworthy DC intro, scattered park footage and assorted detritus — but the Plan B vid no-show sounded an ominous tone, and Colin McKay’s subsequent ‘Black Swan’ invocation eroded hope for the autumn of this wonderful, horrible skate career.

Does US sports apparel manufacturer New Balance and its ‘Tricolor’ executive production team deserve credit and reciprocal shoe-purchasing decisions for coaxing forth the most complete PJ Ladd video section since the Iraq war’s onset? Credit may lie with trusted filming hands, team manager life-coaching hammers and related Vince Lombardisms, promises of forbidden treasure hoards or (most likely) some potent mixture of these. The question itself is moot, the proof lies within digital video footage files spread across three minutes like $240 worth of creamsome pudding.

There is a line here, when the jittering percussion fades to a soothing drone and any remaining eyebrows lifted by PJ Ladd’s marmalade scruff relax to Cro-Magnon levels — it kicks off with a switch 360 and meanders with enough spark in the flips and power in the push to briefly resurrect those Coliseum ghosts. And much is forgiven. PJ Ladd, who once changed skating’s trajectory via an out-of-nowhere skate shop video mainly on word of mouth, owes the world in 2017 probably not much, enjoys a secure legacy. But you can still hope for more, and even if it doesn’t hit with the same impact, one can wallow in a fistful of PJ Ladd lines and ledge moves from Boston’s famed Eggs spot and be satisfied.

Some cosmic block now lifted, will PJ Ladd’s recent bout of filming develop into a full-blown fever in which he, like the recently revived Aphex Twin, unloads a succession of new footage and unburdens various archives unto a gobsmacked and blissed-out public? Does the fact that PJ Ladd is filming more while the ‘Tricolor’ vid’s release is delayed heighten your hopes? Has PJ Ladd, by growing a Grizzly Adams beard, communed with mystical bears of old to attain still-greater powers such as tearing the doors off cars and swatting salmon from rushing river rapids? If you are a bear is eating a whale an ender-ender?

Recent Dispatch From the PJ Ladd Plane of Existence

July 16, 2015

PJ_Rodney

A few months on since Plan B teammate and fellow ‘Tru, B’ sideline-sitter Colin McKay casually compared Boston flatground alchemist PJ Ladd to Queen Amidala’s downward-spiraling leotard flexer in ‘Black Swan,’ third-dimension wallie champ Tom Karangelov offers a somewhat more cosmic update on the recluse technician in TWS’ current and fantastic am issue:

TWS: Any news on the PJ Ladd front?
TK: Oh, dude, I skate with PJ a bunch. He’s working on a part, I guess they want to do a part just with him. He’s super into vibes these days. He wants to grow his hair out because he was telling me that the longer your hair is they’re like antennas. They reach out for energy. So his hair’s pretty long. He’s kind of got this mysterious vibe going. Not a lot of people know what he’s up to, and I think that’s cool.

Now That’s What Boil the Ocean Calls Skateboarding (’00s Edition): 10-1

November 17, 2009

10. “PJ Ladd’s Wonderful Horrible Life,” 2002
PJ_Ladds_WHL

A stacked shop video that marked Jereme Rogers’ debut, Ryan Gallant’s elevation to journeyman status, a girl, and also happened to feature one dude who would realign street skateboarding for the still-new decade. Not sure what the ’00s analog to Guy Mariano’s part in “Mouse” would be (if there could indeed be one) but it might be possible to suggest PJ Ladd’s breakout section as this decade’s Mike Carroll/”Questionable.” The tricks – the last run – are so crazy and so well done, and the whole part is shot through with the type of energy that makes you want to push two more times and flip the board again, a feeling of actual fun being had in the process of blowing all those minds. It’s still hard to imagine how PJ Ladd could properly surpass this part, so in some respects it’s alright that he hasn’t really tried, because it still stands up fine by itself.

9. “Bag of Suck,” 2007

Tilt-moders put on their serious face for a more straightforward release with relatively few bells and whistles, if you don’t count a kinda all-star friends section, the most fantastic synchronized section next to “Hot Chocolate” and various Bones Brigade efforts, and some fairly awesome intros. Caswell Berry, completing the transition from ponytail to mental issues, makes a seven-year-old rap tune sound fresh, Big Joe Red pursues his continuing education in the BA school of outsized grace, and Jerry Hsu goes for broke with the type of understated slaying and style progression that transforms a careerist into a legend. Favorites from this part: the frontside 180 into the bank, the switch f/s shove-it over the rail, and that switch 360 flip he does on the Prince board.

8. “Yeah Right,” 2003

Full-lengths from Girl look to be a once-per-decade event nowadays, and given the inevitable team shuffles as well as the preordained hype/release euphoria/internet backlash/acceptance cycle that accompanies every video of this caliber these days, maybe that type of timeline is necessary. There’s some grousing to be done and fat that could be trimmed (Skatrix) but in spite of the still-evolving teens and the preoccupation with hammers and the Evans brand of overproduction this has all the well-loved hallmarks of a Girl vid, from the pink/invisible boards to Jeron Wilson’s switch 360 flip over the channel and Carroll’s last maneuver. The growing pains ensure that “Yeah Right” won’t compare favorably to the mid-90s golden age, but in the realm of skateboard companies, it’s something that the Crailtap empire is still around, much less making good videos, and Brandon Biebel footage ages like fine wine.

7. “Static II,” 2004

Josh Stewart struck aesthetic paydirt with the second helping of the ongoing “Static” series, searching for an alternative to perceived overwrought handrail epics, and helping birth the cellar-door subgenre while elevating Bob Puleo to internet diety. “Static 2” cemented Josh Stewart’s place among the bailgun wielders, offering well-deserved props for John Igei and Paul Shier, guest shots from the Habitat and Traffic squadrons, and the long-awaited answer to the question of what exactly Kenny Reed had been doing in between shopping for vintage camo pants and region-specific headwear. Josh Stewarts’ videos may not make him rich with gold, but he’s secured his status as a booster of the underground, which probably counts for something in Slap board rep points.

6. “Sorry,” 2002

Flip’s blaring, cussing’ teeth-gritting apology for whatever wasn’t real far removed from the “Baker2Gs” and the “Menikmatis” of the early part of the decade, as far as the skating, but editing-wise it came off way more immediate and unvarnished, a far better vehicle for the sort of skating brought to the table by the unwashed roustabout Ali Boulala, the slacker droop of Mark Appleyard’s drawers, the business side of Arto Saari’s flowing mane and the utterly without fear Geoff Rowley. Who’d have guessed that Bastien Salabanzi, primed for superstardom, would fade while Tom Penny’s shaky but expertly played return here would see him through the rest of the decade.

5. “Lost and Found,” 2005

Hands down the best video made east of the Atlantic in the last ten years and maybe ever, Blueprint’s “Lost and Found” saw the venerable U.K. company coming of age alongside its poster boy Nick Jensen in one of those rare 60-minute jobs that’s very possible to watch all the way through and not skip a part. The quality and sheer amount of footage is matched with sharp editing and generally good music (even, dare we say, the British rap music), and I can think of only a couple examples where dudes’ parts in this video were not the best shit they’ve put out so far (Danny Brady, Jensen, Neil Smith, Colin Kennedy, Chewy Cannon). What was on display in “Lost and Found” was beautiful spots and more than trick firepower a viewpoint and vision – things that few others really had going at the time, plus, Chewy Cannon’s nollie 360s.

4. “Fully Flared,” 2007

Although I dislike Band of Horses to the extent required by law, musical complaints toward the Lakai video now must be fairly viewed through the glorious kaleidoscope of Mannie Fresh, Jeezy and the best song Public Enemy made in about 15 years. Yes, the ledge combos are sometimes a bit much; no, this doesn’t a boring video make, and I think we can be glad that everybody else latched onto this idea instead of the tiresome pole jam-to-manual-to-wallie stuff being peddled in “Let’s Do This!” Here we have a resurgent Anthony Pappalardo, a world-conquering Lucas Puig, Mike Carroll’s best part in 9 years, Eric Koston at long last throwing the last-part weight from his shoulders, Brandon Biebel again, the triumphant resurrection of Jesus Fernandez and his fakie 360 flips, and the almost comic overkill of Marc Johnson’s 15-minute tour de force, all of which met our super lofty expectations. Also Guy Mariano came back and a bunch of shit blew up.

3. “Modus Operandi,” 2000

You maybe could say that the prototype for ’00s videos was first set with “Feedback,” which was in turn improved and expanded upon with “The Reason,” after which both were to be taken off the shelf and calmly stuffed into the toilet to make way for the “Modus” juggernaut. Nah, but this was one of those videos that, even though pretty self-indulgent some of the time, got a lot of people rethinking the way these little projects needed to be put together, and what they should try and “say.” Back before voiceovers earned the fast-forward button you had Marc Johnson reminiscing about misjudging a jock, and doing two separate ledge tricks on the same block in the same line; Chany Jeanguinin declaring his love for vert and ushering in the raw denim manual antics of Biebel; Mike Carroll, his neuroses and a shot at the perfect line; and Brian Anderson vouching for the power of visualizing your goals, wearing Axions and crushing hubbas to the tune of Muskabeatz. What a time to be alive..

2. “Sight Unseen,” 2001

The “Empire Strikes Back” of TWS vids, maybe, owing to the classic status and generally dark atmosphere clouding the Henry Sanchez, Dustin Dollin and particularly Heath Kirchart sections. First, though, there’s the blaring gnar of John Cardiel, the mile-long handrail and burly hubba moves ensuring a spot in the hearts of kids who don’t have the time to wade through Thrasher vids or access to “Fucktards.” Mostly inoffensive Tosh Townend plays this video’s Jordan Richter, bookended on one side by the unrepentant Henry Sanchez, Pupecki-grinding rails and at that point still better than so many other dudes, and the salivating assault of Dustin Dollin, lurching from kinked handrail to kickflip frontside blunt. Then lights out for Heath Kirchart’s symphony of destruction, the gap-to-blunt, and the best backside noseblunt committed to a rail at that point.

1. “Photosynthesis,” 2000

The platinum standard of modern (?) videos, in this random blog-site’s opinion. Variety and editing make this video a cohesive classic for the ages instead of some kinda “Time Code 2,” as long as you aren’t into vert skating and you can tolerate interludes concerned with hamburgers and javelin tossing. Van Engelen’s grease-fire ledge attack, Pappalardo’s clockwork precision, Fred Gall with one pants leg up, Danny Garcia demonstrating how to pop out of a backside tailslide, Wenning’s backside nosegrinds and switch heelflips, Josh Kalis doing “the” 360 flip and the walk down into Jason Dill’s bent world, back when he was doing all those 180s the hard way into ledge tricks and settling into New York. With most parts clocking in under 3 minutes and a runtime around 35:00 “Photosynthesis” rivals any video in the quantity/quality department and nearly all that have come since in terms of achievement in this medium – making something that’s cool to watch, gets you off the couch and has you thinking about watching it again when you get home with your socks still sweaty in your shoes.