Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Bilyeu’

The Snowblower Is The New Bolt Cutter

February 14, 2021

The story of ‘earth’ (the planet) is defined by the eternal tug of war between man and his environment. Viewed from above, land is carved into multicoloured squares and circles, crops to feed man’s teeming billions. Below ground, humans tunnel into soil and rock to extract minerals and gemstones that power cities and festoon foreheads. While tropical islands are constructed from trash or military equipment, each day people display their own minor triumphs over nature, driving heavily laden trucks up hills, relaxing in aeroplanes, boldly growing plants in Antarctica.

Erik Herrera, young fleet-foot now riding officially for Chocolate, this week put up another W for humankind, melding numerous pushes and an anti-ableist cement slope to fling a backside flip over a sidewalk and up a five-step, stoking out Tyler Pacheco and mankind generally. Despite the lack of a slow-mo angle, this backside kickflip more narrowly represented another ripple in the decadeslong environmental push and pull that birthed, developed and continues to define skateboarding. Asphalt embankments provided the friction and gravity for Z-boys of old to approximate surfing sans water; the pools later barged helped ferment the outlaw raiderisms that would be required to persist through the skatepark closures and vert ramp scrappings that would follow. Forced adaptation to office plazas, loading docks and schoolyards required fashioning tricks and entire disciplines around the street biome, working within the terrain’s natural limits and sometimes toppling them. The ingenuity required to translate picnic tables and staircase aids into platforms for innovation and progression allows a new form of vision, like slipping on the enchanted sunglasses from ‘They Live’ and seeing the Sistine Chapel in a New Jersey backyard.

Watching backside kickflips like Erik Herrera’s, on screens powered by rare earth minerals and housed within temperature-controlled rumpus rooms made out of dead trees, it’s easy to feel victorious. Science and technology have provided bondo and sawzalls and the power to make nigh any spot skateable; Thrasher’s March 2021 issue featured a how-to interview with a masked superhero knowed only as ‘Knob Buster.’ Those with mall shop and video game money, properly funneled into the pockets of laid-back warehouse landlords, have unlocked private TFs capable of sidestepping both security and inclement weather.

Yet all of this is a feint, dodging the real and ultimate authority: weather. No less a visionary than Mike Carroll recognized the climate’s paramount rule when, in the ‘Modus’ credits, he mutters his capitulation to the wind, seeking solace in the embrace of a video game controller when persistent breezes made all flip trick attempts pointless. Pat Duffy and Ronnie Creager and Marc Johnson wowed generations by taking on handrails and pic-a-nic tables in the rain, but these remain novelties, with malevolent nimbostrati continuing to reroute domestic and international filming trips to local bars. Even in these pandemic times, the only surefire cure for winter is southbound airfare.

Or is it? The same combination of ingenuity, courage and hardheaded masochism that hurls bodies repeatedly down stairs in pursuit of the clip, and that certain euphoric zen, are now pushing the meteorological envelope further than ever before. John Shanahan’s uncanny ability on the slippery snow-skate is one thing, but as blizzards rake the U.S.A. over past weeks, ways are being found to best even the uncooperative climate itself. The Philadelphia contingent again curls their collective lip toward any barriers before their ledges and cans — deploying a damn snowblower to cut paths between Municipal Plaza’s benches, leaving gaps for young Chris Falo to push and pop over as needed. Further west, Josh Kalis’ Grand Rapids group took the same approach to liberate an even more minimal spot from old man winter’s icicle-fingered clutches, in Boston and Cincinnati they’re skating snowbanks. Kevin Bilyeu’s bubblegoosed nose manual and trash can kickflip aren’t even the point, it’s the principle involved.

Is the snowblower the new bolt cutter? Could an iced-over parking lot or frozen Canadian pond, properly Zamboni’d, host a powerslide event worthy of a wintertime Dime Glory Challenge? Will the future bring affordable and localized weather-controlling machines to skateparks and leave yet-to-come generations that much more confused over why anyone bothers with street spots at all, or will varied temperatures, locales and other environmental trappings be required to properly model the premiumly priced softgood pieces that will support the pros of the day?

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?

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?