Posts Tagged ‘Joey Obrien’

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

October 22, 2017

“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?

5. Joey O’Brien – ‘Sabotage 4’

December 27, 2015

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Nuff respect due to Alex Olson’s ringing Republique line, Greyson Fletcher’s concrete slopestyle, Josh Kalis’ backside noseblunt face-off and Gino Iannucci’s 40 shove-its to freedom, but Joey O’Brien’s run in, out and under Love Park’s granite skeleton ranks not just as the year’s best run of tricks but among the craziest period at a spot that’s yielded some of the most memorable for all of earth’s eternity. In the fourth ‘Sabotage’ volume Joey O’Brien proved willing to and capable of digging his fingernails deeper into Philadelphia’s hallowed and hectic crust than even many of his mouthwash guzzling compatriots, chiseling through handrails and gaps to keep pro-level fans from usurping any curtains as wrecking balls again threaten to end this latest Love era. If wink out it must, there are worse ways to go than under the twinkling neutron star that is Joey O’Brien’s tightly spun 360 flip closer.

Actavis Status

October 10, 2015

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Only 172 days ago*, widely regarded pharmaceutical supplier Actavis plc vulgarly displayed the power it holds over rap music when it voluntarily withdrew its beloved promethazine codeine cough syrups from the pharmacy shelves of the globe, sowing general discord and seeming to press the fast-forward button on the worldview of regular slurpers. What emerged as a merciless crackdown however rapidly evolved into syrupy brinksmanship among rap stars who bid handsomely for remaining stock, boasted of possession, and elsewhere prompted soul searching upon the end of a purply era.

Does another Love Park drought, or perhaps wholesale extinction, loom over Philadelphia and the world at large? Sabotage co-impresario Brian Panebianco has suggested as much. For longrunning fans of the polished stone blocks, this troubling outlook could position the law-abrading video series’ fourth installment as the crowded Soulja Boy countertop of Love Park footage, looking to the ‘Sabotage 4’ dudes to mine the once and future JFK Plaza as thoroughly and deeply as any preceding generation, steeping the planters, tiles and various temporary structures in a rich stew of blood, sweat and mouthwash under the gaze of their VX1000s.

Whereas the Sabotage skaters, graffitto artists and vagrants have nearly single-handedly revived Love Park in recent years, it is remarkable that such a plainly skatable, photogenic and history-soaked spot remains dominated mainly by locals, versus the flocks of migratory pros and steely-eyed wishers that perch up at the world’s JKwons, South Banks and MACBAs. Californian expat Mark Suciu rattles off several of his hyper-technical ledge couplets, Walker Ryan passes through to glide a switch backside flip down the gap,Philadelphia expat Josh Kalis transposes his Love Park template to LA and Chicago blocks, but the vast bulk of the Ty Evans-approved video length is doled out to locals.

The wiry Jamal Smith abruptly opens this video with an array of shove-its and heelflips that vacillate between the spastic and lackadaisical, commemorating the tornado spin’s pending 10-year** by applying it to a ledge. Dylan Sourbeer builds on his promo-spillover part with two songs’ worth of soldiering through the Love ledges and occasionally beyond, breaking from the double-stroller and lazy landings to unfurl some of the crazier backside tailslides at the spot so far. The vid’s heaviest thunderbolts though may be cast down by yung Joey O’Brien, capable of Mariano-approved half cab k-grind reverts on rails and Barley-crushed frontside 360s over cans, who cinderblocks out a handrail route to the fountain and penetrates Love Park’s concrete underbelly via one of the longer lines at the spot recently (also wild were the 180 switch crook lines and the impeccably twirled 360 flip into the bank).

There’s worthwhile arguments to be made over any lethargic fumes of stagnancy emanating from decades-worn spots, but fact that these dudes, most of them not pros, can year by year wring fresh mileage from what may be the most improbably longlived plaza spot domestically, conjuring progression from only about a solid city block’s worth of urban blight, reflects a lot about what this shit is supposed to be about in the first place and what’s perhaps at risk as municipal authorities ploddingly subsidize fenced-in and preapproved ‘free-speech zone’ analogues.

Will a true and final demolition of Love Park as it’s currently regarded spark a black market in tiles and ledge chunks that are rumoured still to lurk within the garages of certain ex-Philly pros to this day? Could a ‘Sabotage’-inspired wave of mouthwash guzzling force Johnson & Johnson to cull Listerine from store shelves? If Love Park somehow maintains will future VX-toters be forced to roll out a triple-seat stroller to arouse nostalgia purchases from a rarified class of skate grampas?

(Sabotage 4 can be acquired here.)

*As per the Roman/Earth calendar
**1 million plus views though