Posts Tagged ‘Josh Stewart’

Cellar Door Seeking, Switch Backside 5-0 Grinding, Contented Old Men

June 22, 2019

O, it is a difficulty, amidst these hostile troll farms, the spammy bots, the federal US antitrust privacy probes, the poisonous and pervasive loudness — recall, citizen, that there once was a time when The Internet was envisaged to become a digital daisy-chain bridging cultural and physical gaps, drawing disparate populaces closer, and placing mammalian humanoids on a path toward a computer-enhanced shangri-la similar to the one depicted in Star Trek Tha Next Generation. In the current moment it instead comes off as something of a wi-fi enabled social cheese grater, slicing our species into smaller and smaller social factions fittable inside cozy bubbles depicted in a five-years-too-late Alien Workshop graphic, and ripe for a post-singularity steamrolling by the Earth’s presumptive machine custodians. In the meantime DGK’s giving Kevin Taylor a guest board though.

Third-grade math posits one of life’s great lessons, that it is possible, at least when multiplying two negative figures, to come away with a positive. So it is that living generations must contemplate Bobby Puleo’s recent, sunnier turn via several Internet-based longform media appendages. Nearly two decades ago, back toward the time when the skate-o-sphere expanded enough to fragment into a mainstream, an underground and various other subdisciplines identifiable via trick trends and readily purchased uniforms, the public perception of Bobby Puleo began to shift — the velvet-footed bank-to-ledge artist seemed to harden his Oyolist views regarding street skating purity, growing a beard, earning a reputation for obsessive spot secrecy, and voicing (if not enforcing) a rigid framework of unwritten law regarding who should be filming or taking photos at what spots. Observers observed a shift from goofy shimmying in ‘Static II’s definitive part to electronically haranguing Josh Stewart over corporate employerships and matters of general cred, later deriding Mark Suciu’s Philadelphia residency as “tourist types coming in and running through the resources.” In Solo a couple years back, he put it like this: “I don’t have a lot of rules, but there are rules.”

In a pursuit ostensibly based in large part on rejection of organized sport conventions, rules very much included, this occasionally got peoples’ backs up and branded Bobby Puleo something of a scold. It’s a role he sometimes seemed to knowingly lean into, such as his zestful grousing over Theories inexplicably replicating one of his old ads for a Hopps/Cons promo last year. Other times he has come off reflexively cynical, like his critique of Steve Brandi’s coming out around the time of the Cons/Hopps product launch.

Earlier this year, when Chris Roberts’s Nine Club podcast unveiled a nearly three-hour sitdown with Bobby Puleo, listeners of a certain age braced for a dogmatic, graduate-level ‘True East’-minded lecture laced with detours into numerology-based population control. While an ages-long alliance between Freemasons and The Great Old Ones potentially forced Nine Club controllas to edit out the latter, Bobby Puleo’s continued ruminations on early 1990s rap music law guiding his philosophies came off more measured and less didactic, perhaps because it arrived alongside rambling stories about losing a wheel en route to a SoCal skatepark (Bobby Puleo skates skateparks — California ones no less), his own intense fan fixations (‘Mouse’-era Guy Mariano, vintage stickers, his dream of attending board-collector swap meet Skater-Con*), and his endearingly hyper-specific footage preferences (Texas backyard vert ramps).

This month Thrasher centered one of its ‘Out There’ segments on Bobby Puleo, graybeareded and gamely reminiscing on his first cellar door, cruising on his bike for back-alley spots, and hunting for aesthetically affecting garbage to make into art projects. Here, his tricks remain quick-feeted and feather soft, but there is little sign of the fearsome and uncompromising Bobby Puleo one might worry would blindfold you and drive you around for several hours before pulling up at the spot to film tricks. Touring his childhood spots, the vid raises the prospect of a galaxy collapsing back in upon itself in a sort of ‘big crunch’ that could perhaps end/begin again with a more contented, peaceable Bobby Puleo.

Is time sanding off Bobby Puleo’s harsher edges, are the rest of us getting harder in a mean age, or has the text-based medium of earlier Internet communications obscured something in his tone all these years? Are purity and happiness mutually exclusive? Do those found-object art pieces contain crytograph puzzle clues that, properly assembled, will lead some future Bobby Puleo devotee to uncover his secret map of spots decades in the future? Why is ‘the industry’ continuing to ignore Godzilla’s ballooning heaviness? Have you ever seen a bad Kevin Taylor photo?

6. Jake Johnson – ‘Static 4’

December 26, 2014


While making Jake Johnson the marquee no-complier, wallrider and shove-it man on Polar may have been a concept terminal in its redundancy, it is enduringly awesome to see the dude apply his raw and wiry talent to the genre, birthed as much by Josh Stewart’s ‘Static’ series as anything else, and stretch it to gobsmacking distances. Jake Johnson’s line down the black bank etched itself into Alien Workshop’s apparent eulogy and in profile recalls those dudes surfing Portugal’s freak waves, while the now-famed frontside slappy down Clipper pops up with as little warning as the idea that anybody would try such a thing at that spot in the first place. The squalling guitars here are a serviceable Dinosaur Jr approximation and if there’s any knock at all on this footage it might be that there’s plenty more room for Jake Johnson to unbottle some of deep-web technical ability, like the fakie ollie to front blunt, but it is fabulous to watch him in this zone.

Turn Up Deep Web

August 7, 2014

Several years ago, Emerica shoes marked the end of a bold and promiscuous era by releasing “Stay Gold,” billed within urethane-wise punditrydom as “tha last video ever.” Girl and Chocolate under their own advances a short while later launched “Pretty Sweet,” also the last video ever, and Plan B toward the end of 2K14 widely is expected to place a MegaRampTM-shaped capstone on the video era upon completing “Tru, B” which not only is understood to be the last video ever but furthermore to potentially never come out at all, just to make the point.

Where does this leave our independent video maker? If you are named Ty Evans you actually are a Filmmaker and shall be contracted to a burgeoning action sports production house for the use of proprietary Filmmaking UAVs and certain other automated devices that aren’t yet all legal under county-specific statutes penned by wizened barneys. For the remainder, do they continue to absorb the financial hardships, bristly market risk and hours spent lying in gutters, occasionally sprinkled with sustaining dollops of funding from shoe conglomerates or free boards from their bro’s warehouses?

There are relatively few big-name companies attached as backers to “Statics 4 & 5,” Josh Stewart’s sprawling ode to nocturnal nooks and crannies of the five boroughs, and the steadily clattering insomniac tunnels that stitch them together. At this point Josh Stewart’s sunk the better part of two decades into filming skating and making videos, he’s complained about the tough time making a living at it even before the internet obliterated both the hardcopy format and the longform video, and more recently talked about how he gets money videoing more-pedestrian shit, probably with additional perks such as sensible hours and fewer threats from wayward autos and cops.

Is this Josh Stewart’s last Static vid? Maybe or maybe not, but between the Henry Edwards and Jeremy Elkins and Peter Sidlauskases of this current plane of existence it seems the curse of the independent video filmer will continue to cloud and arouse youngsters’ minds, whether or not board and shoe makers deign to continue sinking years’ worth of marketing budget lucre into full-length DVDs or high quality Blu Ray products for HD TVs. Josh Stewart, as elder a statesman in all this as Dan Wolfe or Fred Mortagne at this point, suggested this may not be such a bad thing, in spite of any ensuing financial hardships, or perhaps because of them:

One of the rad things about the skate video as an art form is that most of the people doing good work in the indie video scene aren’t motivated by financial gain. And it makes it more pure as an art form when it has to be done on the side of making a living.

The “Static 5” opening sequence, with its tribal chanting, drums and dudes silently walking through tunnels, gives you a sense of how Josh Stewart may view shit and moustachioed literary analytic types might be inclined to draw some “Last of the Mohicans” analogy.* In a time when social media-abetted personal branding has incented standalone video parts and projects catering to specific dudes’ approaches to skating, the 4th and 5th “Statics” are one of the more cohesive and well put together full-lengths in quite a while. The Slap board commentary cycle may have reduced Josh Stewart’s aesthetic to “cellar doors” around the time of the third installment but there’s still few who can argue better for it, and with the exception of the Bronze vid, to which it really is unfair to compare any video, there is no better soundtrack this year, occasionally ripped straight from the trains and platforms.

With the volume of cellar doors transferred to and bars hopped (Aaron Herrington grabs the no-comply title straight from the jump) it was wise if indulgent to bisect this project into a pair of “Photosynthesis”-optimized runtimes, even though there’s satisfactory variety when it comes to this type of skating. Aaron Herrington goes bio down three banks, Yonnie Cruz is awarded most ambidextrous,
Brian Clarke displays a rarely seen frontside noseslide shove it and
Brendan Carroll behaves similarly with a nollie manual. There are cameos by some of Japan’s street alchemists whose style really has no father but could plausibly claim the “Static 2” Traffic/Puleo parts as an irritable uncle. Dustin Eggeling turns in the obligatory fakie frontside noseslide shove it and thereby soothes certain 1990s ghosts, Jimmy Lannon continues to embody one of the better examples of how less oftentimes is more and
Jake Johnson does his mountain ride, with the skate sounds dialed down and guitars turnt similar to an Alien video. Jimmy Mastrocolo, Daniel Kim and Keith Denley should do parts in next video Josh Stewart does, if there is one.

The best made part in this entry though may be Jahmal Williams, who Josh Stewart pairs with an aging subway dance squadron led by a dude who claims to be over 45 and literally toiling underground, “keeping the art alive” on behalf of tourists and passing worker bees. Jahmal Williams still has it, boosting up traffic barriers and igniting one of the better filmed rick flips recently and issuing a memorable “one more” plea in pursuit of nighttime breakdancing glory and possibly the promise of parachute pants riches yet to come. If these are really the last ones of Josh Stewart’s “Static” series, they do it justice and make a case for the dude mastering his craft, copies can and should be purchased from Theories of Atlantis.

*Not this blogosite though, never that

6. Brian Delatorre – “MIA”

December 25, 2011

Habitat might’ve been guilty of playing to type a little bit in putting on Brian Delatorre even going beyond the easy ponytail jokes, but if his MIA closer part didn’t goose his career trajectory somehow than things may have been in much worse shape for 2011 than they otherwise were. There’s maybe a handful of dudes out there taking the same sort of risks this guy does on hills and it’s always cool to see dudes who go for the gusto on set-up tricks, like here where he’s nollie flipping or nollie backside 180’ing up the curb before blasting off whatever handicap ramp. It’s nice to see use of the nollie varial flip down a gap and the way he keeps swinging at some well-worn SF spots. The ender fits that spot like a glove too.

Rose-Coloured Glasses, Made In Philadelphia

August 1, 2011

Recently while aboard a luxury locomotive I gazed out the window to take in the urban decay and peacefully zoned out on the loading docks and warehouses, snapping to after realizing that it had been several minutes and probably it looked retarded to whatever secular co-passengers might’ve been paying attention. One of those increasingly seldom times when a person can still feel as though these pursuits might set them apart in some fundamental way from the rest of the whoevers, and coming on the heels of the pretty emotionally heavy Oyola “Later’ds,” casts Ricky/Bobby/Traffic and the rest in a whole different light.

I ask you, who but a truly cockeyed optimist looks for and sees potential for good times in a sea of crumbling concrete foundations and pissy public parks and disused traffic barriers? What sort of a person launches a hardgoods affair, in 2011, out of the east coast without Marc Ecko rhino pants money and with a full-time truck driving job? What sort of a person would professionally endorse this company? What sort of person devotes the last decade-plus to filming this stuff for unprofitable video enterprises? Does spot-seeking and those who live the attached lifestyle require a person to be naturally outfitted with rose-colored goggles, or are they earned like a samurai’s blade or a unicorn’s wish-granting powers?

Elsewhere on the east coast, Du Flocka Rant gives the children a reason to believe. (via quartersnacks)

Roberto Puleo, Dear Leader And Skate Spot Colonialism In The Video Age

February 26, 2011

Two things got me excited to load up and sit down for the 35-minute entirety of this Converse China video a while back — watching a carful of bros I’ve never heard of embark on a cross-country shred vacation through a spot on the globe that’s sort of a blur for me. There’s a vicarious sorta thrill to be drawn from vids filmed in far-flung corners of the earth that you’re not likely to visit or have board to hand if you do — new and weird cityscapes harbouring giddy potential in wide-open plazas with lemony fresh ledges, cement that waves and curls, befuddled cops that keep moving, etc. There were reasons besides Luy Pa-Sin and Alex Carolino and JB Gillett that I watched “They Don’t Give A Fuck About Us” so many times even in spite of that Kool Shen song.

Trick-wise the “Ni” video is short on your after-black hammers but watching them rail it from town to town and dig into spots like that ice-slick bank at 14:30 or the QP buffet at 30:30 gets the wheels turning when you wonder what else is lying around that 3.7 million square miles, where fishing villages get juiced into 10 million-bro metropoli over the course of a couple decades. All of which can turn quick into tongue-clucking and head-shaking with China’s foothold as the new Barcelona finding our West Coast video heroes jetting halfway around the world to eat at train station McDonalds and film clips at the same dozen or so spots. One particular bummer is that the spot-as-trick-benchmark means that the pros can get over k-grinding a previously unseen hubba that may or may not have seen the same move from a local years before, while those dudes’ own video parts end up Youtube fodder, absent “Night Prowler”-type productions that splash on the overseas radars.

Bobby Puleo, among the more spot-minded people out there, touches on this topic briefly in a enjoyably rambling/ranting interview that went up on his site last month.

“I do know a lot of people go and film their parts in far off places like China and Europe instead of trying to find their own shit in the places they actually live in or operate in. It seems like a lot of kids just simply don’t use their intellect or imaginations enough any more.”

Puleo’s stance is heavily defensive toward his home turf of New York and the rugged/gritty/urban brand it now carries thanks in no small part to his own efforts to highlight that aesthetic, alongside other like-minded bros such as Josh Stewart, Ricky Oyola, Chris Mulhern, Kevin Coakley, sometimes Jason Dill, etc. California kids carpetbagging their way through Manhattan in a bid to offset palm trees and concrete transition raise the hackles of jaded/bearded ones such as Puleo, who I personally would put on the far end of the spot spectrum from those who might hop a plane to film manual tricks several time zones over — fetishizing spots/surroundings to the point that the trick itself is like an afterthought or even a distraction from the attractively deteriorating warehouses or bridge-pilings, catching the smog-tinted sunset rays just so. Ricky Oyola, who interviewed Puleo, at one point seems to suggest this:

“I know nowadays, it looks like kids try too hard to find those type of spots, I think it comes out looking contrived most times.”

Puleo soon resumes his attack on VX-bearing career-builders trampling all over his town, but I think Oyola has a point here — there’s a clip in “This Time Tomorrow,” a generally totally awesome movie, where (I think) a dude ollies up one curb, then another one quickly, then has to make a tight turn and hops up on a rail to do a frontside boardslide down, like, four stairs. Hard, yes, could I do it, probably definitely no way, but there are hard questions you ask yourself when allotting video-part real estate and with a certain subset of skating very much shaped by aesthetics-minded landmarks like “Static 2” it’s clear that sometimes the clip is more about the spot than whatever trick happens to go down there.

And we now flip open last month’s Transworld, or alternately click here, to witness the ongoing fruits of a career built partly on this idea — Kenny Reed 360 flipping in North gosh-darn-it Korea, a jurisdiction with enough mystique and cache and well-fed military personnel such that the bar is lowered to the point that a flatground trick earns full-page photo status. A more exotic riff on an idea that still plays at home, which is when you’ve got a brand-new rail it doesn’t matter that Mark Appleyard kickflip backside tailslide bigspinned out on some other rail 10 years ago, because the slate is clean and a veteran pro can get in his frontside crooked grind or backside 5-0 before the amateurs come along and fuck it all up by kickflipping into everything, or worse, going up it.

Which is maybe one way long-suffering photogs could help make rent every month — hoarding the latitude and longitude of virgin spots and holding out for the highest bids put forth by dudes needing to justify royalties from their sixth pro sneaker. Style points on a backside smith grind go further when you’re not standing in the shadow of last month’s nollie backside noseblunt and if the message boards are paying attention said pro could possibly even add “spot seeker” to his online rep. Maybe people already are doing this?

Gorilla Grip

April 12, 2010

Besides a flair for danger, eye for drama and a noble mane of hair, one of the things that made Jamie Thomas super exciting to watch in those early Toy Machine days was the uncanny way he had of sticking his trucks onto rails, be they round, skinny or otherwise. We are reminded of this fact as video maker and Fox Mulder kindred spirit Josh Stewart posts up a batch of vintage Jamie Thomas video, some of which wound up in “Welcome To Hell” and thereby helped it become revered as among the top ten greatest videos ever probably. The clip I’m thinking about here is the wallie grind on the white bar at night, but an equally boss example could be found in the finished product at about 2:56 wherein Jamie Thomas transfers his way across a different rail. (Also the one-footer/50-25 or also the credits clip.) There is more promised from the Atlantis vaults, but in the meantime make sure you watch all the Hopps commercials including this Police Squad-tinged entry.