Posts Tagged ‘Josh Kalis’

Could Tiago Lemos’ Incredible Switch Backside Tailslide Also Reflect Ledge Skating’s Shrinking Middle Class?

June 4, 2017

In what has come to be knowed as the ‘switch backside tailslide heard ’round the world,’ this week Tiago Lemos hopped on his board backwards, got up the high way on the long MACBA block and slid the length of a full-grown crocodile before rolling away to cement one of those increasingly rare, culture-unifying moments. “Ok. [Tiago Lemos] is a beast,” remarked Josh Kalis. Drake Jones figured “this could be the biggest,baddest switch backtail ever done!” “Amazing,” commented Mike Sinclair. Transworld, which once elevated Eric Koston to diety status, declared that Tiago Lemos hereby “is a god.”

Yet as Andy MacDonald and others understand all too well, one day’s lifted bar soon becomes the next day’s hurdle to be ollied, and later kickflipped, and eventually kilty mcbagpipped for an after-credits clip set to a whimsical indie-rock tune. Just days before Tiago Lemos seized the switch back tail crown, Antonio Durao had the internet agog at his own back to back assault on waistline-topping planters in Numbers’ second video drop, to the delight of Miles Silvas and Rodrigo TX and the vacant-eyed indifference of unnamed cell phone lookers. This all arrived a few days after Dylan Rieder’s birthday reminded how he once lifted a backside smith grind onto a Thrasher cover-meriting ledge.

Across history’s compendium of burly ledge tricks, these have been cause for celebration. But concerns have arisen among musty academic circles over a perceived ledge disparity that some experts fear may be growing. As anointed ones such as Tiago Lemos and Antonio Durao hoist their trucks and tails onto ever-higher blocks, planters and hunks of raw cement, there are separately signs that many others appear to be making do with less and less. According to the emerging theory, a slappy revolution, once conceived as a reclamation for the common man, is showing troubling signs of becoming instead a cage, a ceiling which grows ever more difficult to penetrate. While powerhouse pros claim more and more available ledge inches via high-altitude feats, increasingly curb skating is celebrated, stylized and fetishized for the world’s remainder, a disparity that grows more troublesome as ‘middle-class’ ledge spots like Love Park and JKwon increasingly face the bulldozer.

Do Boston’s Eggs, Paris’ Republique, and Los Angeles’ Swoosh-reconstituted LA Courthouse represent sanctuaries for ledge skating’s increasingly squeezed creamy middle? Could some type of social engineering be attempted via plunking cinderblocks on top of red curbs, and meanwhile chiseling down ledges deemed by ivory-tower eggheads to be ‘too high’? Is concentration of ledge height inches in the hands of a smaller few part of a broader ‘trickle-down’ theory under which smaller ledge-oriented masses will be inspired to seek out larger ledges and ultimately add inches to their own frontside crooked grinds and backside smith grinds? Is Tiago Lemos for real?

Advertisements

Choices 3: Judgment Day

July 30, 2016

bubble.JOSH-KALIS

Thirty-eight years ago to the day, Memphis rap posse Three 6 Mafia uncannily predicted the brassiness and unbridled vamping of this 2016 US political election season in the motion picture release ‘Choices 2,’ an airy farce with a rhetorical title referencing how two people compete to be the ‘People’s Choice’ and win the ‘People’s Choice Award,’ also knowed as the US presidency. Over time the prize has gone to saxophonists, cowboy actors and even enjoyors of post-retirement Jay-Z songs, but many of the heartiest feats of achievement that shall define the 2016 contest still lie ahead.

Several miles below sea level, the deep-pocketed forces steering the skateboarding industry from an underwater base confront their own conundrum. Josh Kalis, he of the nigh-spotless twenty-plus year career, channeled the syrupy spirits of DJ Paul and Juicy J to record his own ‘Choices,’ a satirical short film that alternately bemoans and bellylaughs at the long-armed reach of international sporting equipment companies into skate shops, sweeping less powerful companies’ shoes from shelves and leaving a paucity of options for the toecap-chewing hardflipper.

It can be no coincidence that the messenger for this unhappy fable is Josh Kalis, whose reintroduction of the ‘Kalis Lite’ to a generation of Love Park-fetishizing saboteurs comes as the most important geopolitical shoe event of the year. Despite its hikey sole and lack of air bag, the ‘Lite/LTE’ is the most credible-yet throwback to the puffy shoe era*, boosted by a particularly East Coast persuasion of nostalgia arising out of #skateshoewars and Philadelphia spot paleontology. The Kalis Lites, the most vital release from DC in years, also comes as sporting apparel makers Nike and Adidas try ever so softly to nudge skaters’ sweatstained wallets further ajar, coaxing dollaridoos toward higher-tech footwears that command fatter margins and further cement the big, swinging corporation as the dominant force in skate shoedom, widening the gap between their space-age materials and those lesser peddlers of vulcanized suede.

But a good decade into this slim-shoe era, as the Janoski continues to run roughshod over besocked $150 Kostons and rivals’ new pro models retain slender, suedey templates, the tech shoe increasingly threatens to fall back into its typecast role as a periodic fad. The rubbered-out Airwalks and Etnies briefly ushered in the 90s before Jason Lee and Jim swept the table clear for a generation of grunge rockers, conscious MCs and others to wallow, before DC began slowly turning up the tech with the Boxer and the newly-reissued Syntax. The oft-maligned D3, also recently reissued, arguably represented the apex/nadir of this period, before Nike’s Dunk fanned the Luddite spark struck by Tom Penny’s Accel-boosting Menikmati part, and within a few years the Half Cab ascended to the throne. Es, which never fully relinquished its mantle of Schemes and Logics, entered the cryogenic chamber as the vulcanized sole trampled all comers.

Are the recent techy stabs a sign that the tide finally is turning away from simplicity or just further fodder to an every-ten-years-tech-shoe fad? Could a longterm tech-shoe revival help propel Quiksilver into a new glory age of booze and boardshorts? Is independent shoe company booster Josh Kalis making a bigger and broader design statement when he talks about ‘choices’? Will the fact that Oscar-winners DJ Paul and Juicy J have one up on Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock and Charlie Chaplin ever truly sink in with the general public?

*Which perhaps not coincidentally overlapped with the Puff Daddy era

8. Dane Vaughn – ‘Laugh Now Cry Later’

December 24, 2015

Occasionally fitted like Puffy’s Hamptons pool boy and targeting tricks at times like DGK’s answer to Dylan Rieder, swamp threat Dane Vaughn has been one of the more interesting dudes coming up among the company’s third generation, or fourth, or whatever it may be with Stevie Williams piloting nautical clothing concerns, Jack Curtain riding for Staba and Keelan Dadd striking out on his own. The sun is shining on Dane Vaughn, nudging noseblunt slides across sporadically reluctant planters, kickflipping into a frontside noseslide on JKwon’s tall block like it’s a curb, laughing off a nollie inward heelflip to calamity crash and on the ender, defying any type of conventional wisdom as to the smooth handling of a barely imaginable block-top move.

Actavis Status

October 10, 2015

Monday_lean

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

3. Jordan Trahan – ‘Enron’

December 29, 2014


The ancients believed the frontside pop-shove it possessed various herbal and medicinal qualities that buoyed healing and promoted weight gain. Jordan Trahan, only tangentially related to the earlier-mentioned Jordan Sanchez and famed Alaskan ‘puzzleboss’ Jordan Kiwitroop, knows the names of the forgotten gods and how properly to revere them. As the afterglow gathers toward the close of Bronze’s understandably powerful ‘Enron’ Film this year, Jordan Trahan in two short minutes fulfills many prophecies of old that longer, more expensively made video parts failed to consummate this year. Really, this section harboured all relevant affairs, including a fully cracked backside bigspin and lightly floated hardflip, but to it we endeavor to staple Jordan Trahan’s internet-famous JKwon 360 flip, anointed as an ageless heater by none other than Josh Kalis himself and widely recognized as 2014’s most impactful trick in which a board spins 360 degrees and flips at the same time. As earlier mentioned in the Book of Revelation, ‘I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a 360 flipping board, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war.’ And yet as the fella says, certain individuals don’t want war.

Leave Bodies Slumped In The Street

May 18, 2013

busenitz_pier

A discrete plea to crowdsource a Dennis Busenitz You-Tube link: In the way one can be struck by a sudden craving for a Burger King Whopper or a grape-flavored cigarillo, midweek brought an overpowering urge to cue up the footage for what onetime Thrasher ledge-lord Josh Kalis declared to be the best manual trick performed ever at the pier. This ad came around 2007 and apparently before Busenitz made the hop to Adidas. The clip wasn’t filmed in time to make “Roll Forever,” was too far on the left side of the Western hemisphere for inclusion in “Diagonal” and my first guess, Volcom’s “Let’s Live,” wasn’t right. Sifting Real’s “Kitchen Sink” odds-n-ends video didn’t turn it up. The desire remains strong to the point reviewing various Thrasher and TWS video montages remains under consideration.

Kids

December 17, 2012

knox

Billions of burgers flipped by McDonald’s Corp., five decades’ worth of James Bond movies and the estimated $100 million net worth of Wayne “Mr. Entertainment” Newton bear witness to how consistency and a reliable product can command a loyal clientele and lucrative following, if not adoring devotion and the occasional soiled thong hurled upon a pockmarked Las Vegas stage. Jeron Wilson, Chico Brenes and Mike Carroll seem to understand that there is and likely always will be an audience for specialized heelflips, nollie heelflips and backside smith grinds, even while those such as Gino Iannucci and Anthony Pappalardo can’t seem to bring themselves to keep playing the hits year in and out.

Whereas technology setpieces of “Pretty Sweet” invested heavily in the wow factor, DGK’s full-length debut, arriving after a series of mixtape-like one-offs and features like Kayo’s “It’s Official,” offers few surprises. A DGK customer knows what he’s paying for — although the “Chocolate Tour” as reimagined by Harmony Korine storyline here heaps disdain upon paying for what otherwise can be racked or heisted — and Stevie Williams & co seem to have put years of work into delivering this, an overlong, guest-heavy, ready-made blockbuster willing to elbow aside wimpier videos for a spot as the successor to, if not the culmination of, vids such as “20-Shot Sequence,” “Tantrum,” “2nd To None,” “Ryde or Die Vol. 1” and “Street Cinema.” When 2 Chainz comes on here it is more earnest than when used by dudes hopping bars in Queens wearing twill trousers.

For an hour, DGK’s “Parental Advisory” glories in loudmouth rap music, camouflage pants*, gunfire, cameos from skate-rap touchstones such as Kareem Campbell, Fabian Alomar, Steven Cales, DMX and Beanie Siegel, shoplifting, loose-fit denim, shiny chains and hat-tags fluttering in the breeze, wife beaters, small wheels, graffiti, and some jack moves. For those paying attention there are references to the Menace intro in “Trilogy,” the Bones Brigade in “Police Academy” and even a much-beloved pre-Slap message board pro-skater-dies meme.

No one will look to this video to register on the ATV meter but in the trick department DGK too delivers as promised: Josh Kalis and Stevie Williams skate Love Park; Josh Kalis unloads his monster 360 flip and Stevie Williams cracks some switch heelflips. Wade Desarmo, one of those Canadians who maybe fell a little too far in love with tall tees over the past decade, stacks heavy-lidded picnic-table tech including a hazed-out hardflip backside 5-0 and an alley-oop frontside flip that ranks among the best in a year when Andrew Reynolds put out a video. Marcus McBride turns in a full section that ought to make any pro with a board out for longer than 10 years sit up and prepare an excuse and Rodrigo TX, who has quietly been on a non-stop hustle these past five years, loudly reps the defunct Es shoes company and snaps a terrific looking switch kickflip over a rail. Some of these newer kids with all the “D” names blurred for me, but Keelan Dadd has poise and good runs like the one with the switch kickflip frontside boardslide. Lenny Rivas, who made a serious run at Knox Godoy status himself, has gone grown man and turns a couple new helicopters onto the handrails. My vote for best-dressed dude in the skate game Jack Curtin comes through late in the vid and wrecks shop with some incomprehensible tricks like a switch shove-it 5-0 on a rail up against a wall and his hairball switch backside lipslide down the Clipper ledge.

Probably there always will be like-minded dudes out there doing it like Brandon Biebel but the clarity of purpose Stevie Williams puts to “Parental Advisory” sometimes makes it seem like he’s carrying a whole subset of the 1990s on his back here — nods given to all these little-seen skaters and rappers, a lengthy skater-on-skater-crime narrative that picks up where the Menace video that would never come left off in “Trilogy,” even going so far earlier this year as to deliver a Fabian Alomar part time-capsuled in from 1996, and then achieving the seemingly impossible by getting Kareem Campbell to commit to a skate project**. Coming out a month after “Pretty Sweet” secured DGK an underdog status they probably relish, and the fact that every dude on the team managed to turn in more or less a full section can be read as an endorsement of any number of those motivational platitudes embroidered onto DGK baseball hats, but it’s probably too much to ask this company to cop to now-certified overachiever status.

*of several persuasions
**no knock on the work that went into that song but the Crailtap dudes might’ve just happened to catch him at the store

Ishod Wair, Roaming Wide Open Spaces Of Brick And Leaf

October 8, 2012

Next to Luy-Pa Sin, JB Gillett, Bastien Salabanzi and Henning Braaten, the hot shoes of Lordz Wheels’ 2004 production “They Don’t Give A Fuck About Us” shared billing with this pretty dizzying array of amazing spots that a lot of us in the US had yet to see at the time, when the domestic pro wave had at that point fully crashed into Barcelona and France but had yet to wash over the rest of the continent. Situated amongst the rickety handrails and cluttered run-ups that you’d come to associate with old-world skating was a whole smorgasbord of expansive, new-looking plazas drenched with marble and strewn about with all manner of ledges and steps and banks and wedges. At various times it was almost like it didn’t matter which dude was pushing through or what he was up to exactly, you could sit back and let your imagination go.

Into the annals of spot pr0n now comes Ishod Wair, human American, pictured above tooling through this carnival of brick that reportedly can be found in Hamburg, Germany. Some time back we linked up an old Tom Penny section that amounted to a couple one-off tricks in a skatepark and then one long, meandering line down a street on a sunny afternoon, with some commentary stapled onto it to the effect that such a line summed up certain shit about the appeal of this beloved action sport. The spot in the Ishod Wair clip gets to some of those ideas in the same way as the great ‘plazas’ of yesteryear, like the Santa Monica Courthouse, EMB, Pier 7, Love Park, Sants station and so on — these big blank canvasses where a dude, possibly feeling his oats, could pull trick after trick until his batteries give out like Mike Carroll in “Goldfish” or he runs out of space like Josh Kalis. No need to X off rail or gap tricks from a finite list and enough room on the benches over to the side for cultural spillover, this is where Josh Kalis’ “organic” tricks can be sewn. Extra bonus points awarded to Ishod Wair here for inserting a flatground kickflip into the mix here, no sweat.

Upgrading To ‘Conviction Buy’

May 13, 2011

Wound down the evening tonight skipping through EST 4 for a long-lost Josh Kalis line at Philadelphia city hall that ends in a switch b/s lipslide down a fabricated handrail. Eventually found it and clicked back to watch it a couple more times before letting it play through and then confronting this. Blinked a few times, wasn’t sure how to respond. Still not sure to be honest

Josh Kalis: The Sentamentalist

April 9, 2011

Not sure how many folks celebrate or even remember Black Label’s Jim Gagne, a blue collar street-and-transition man known to pack a keg into the back of a truck to ratchet up the awesome factor in a given session. Don’t necessarily recall tricks in particular but the dude always got a thumbs up on general principle because of how he saw and embraced his “small-town mentality,” as per an old interview in Thrasher that detailed the keg scenario. It was not on the level of a Fred Gall interview but pretty close.

Around that same time Josh Kalis was gathering momentum for what would be a decade-long run of pretty much unparalleled video/photo coverage, arguably peaking with the “Photosynthesis” video section, pretty much every trick difficult and snappy and done well at eye-pleasing spots and sometimes in swishy pants. Like the coyote or famous zebra mussel he has proven able to acclimate to and thrive in the most metro of zones across New York, Chicago, San Diego, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Barcelona, as detailed in mostly chronological year-order over a recent “Epicly Laterd” broadcast. Probably you wouldn’t call 200,000-person Grand Rapids, MI a one-horse town but by comparison you maybe wonder if Kalis is on some level the same sort of small-town sentimental type as Jim Gagne.

Case in point, the sepia toned recollections of Love Park days gone by in the “Laterd” and revelations of how Kalis has since chased the meetup-spot vibe to other venues with what sound like gradually diminishing results. In the Toy Machine Thrasher that’s out now he discusses the Embarcadero era.

When you watch a video part with those guys, you see them slapping fives with everyone and having fun. I loved that time when you could just be all together at a spot, egging each other on. Everyone’s feeding off each other. Nobody wants to punk out, ’cause their friends over here might make fun of them. I like that stuff.

Kalis believes the organic vibe of a session bleeds through into whatever photos or footage wind up getting produced in between the smoked cigarettes and cracked jokes and musings on theoretical physics traded with local hobos. As per the “Laterd,” Kalis values honesty both in terms of how tricks come to pass and what’s presented in any finished product, opting to put forth the last year’s travels and daily routines as opposed to stacking DV tapes in a garage somewheres.

Kinda worried about Kalis, not because this all isn’t a worthy effort that other dudes could/maybe should follow. Concerned though that we’re seeing a cowboy slowly fenced in. Hassles from the man plus proliferation of skateparks times glorification of private warehouse training facilities makes me wonder how many organic scene/spots are bound to be left in five/ten/forty years, if Kalis is holding to the phantom of a dying vibe or some equally chilling concept. Wonder if the torch he’s carrying is going out, or turning into a plastic flashlight, or maybe even a more bizarre and ominous analogy like it’s actually the headlamp of an oncoming train and the Mayans were right and we shouldn’t really be worrying about any of this.

Sorta related to all this, wonder whether the question Kalis raises with regard to what footage inspires him (or vice versa) points back to all those dudes occupying benches and taking mounting hardware off broken boards and rolling joints in the handful of seconds before or after a trick goes down on the screen–like whether a video clip’s improved by its background noise, the suggestion of good times being had in the sun at some ledges around the corner and how it plays off all the potential inside the deck/trucks/wheels setup and even the street in front of your house. Stopping here before we hit Marc Johnson in “Operandi” mode.