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