Words by Frozen in Carbonite
Reclusive geniuses are an endangered species these days. In the current era of personal branding and ever-flowing #content, this state of affairs renders new material from one an #event — like that one new Harper Lee book or, as I referenced here, a hypothetical new Salinger novel.
After the Plan B video came and went with a single solitary trick, the long-awaited P.J. Ladd street (i.e. not filmed in a private indoor T.F.) video part occupied a mental space somewhere between Chinese Democracy and the Menace video.
Indeed, if I were in a barstool conversation with, say, Chuck Klosterman, the easiest way to convey what makes P.J. Ladd such an icon would be to say “He’s like the Brian Wilson of skateboarding” — an archetype-shattering, somewhat eccentric genius. However, once you shatter the mirror once — via a Pet Sounds or a PJLWHL — you can’t put it back together. That impact is one-time-only. What made PJLWHL so insane was that it was technically mindblowing and viscerally relatable (ledges alongside piles of snow, shredded Accels) at once. It was as if the exponential progression of Embarcadero — achieved collectively by Sanchez, Carroll, et. al. — had been recreated in one mind. Also, just like Brian Wilson inspired a legion of followers (like the dude from Spiritualized, etc.), Ladd created an entire genre of Boston ledge-tech assassins.
So, after a decade and a half, the most realistic expectation — as with Wilson’s 1980’s solo record — is quality work.
Which brings us to the outline of the part itself. Tricks, spots, and fits.
Like many successful individuals, Ladd has adopted the practice of wearing pretty much the same thing every day; this frees more time to consider new methods of flipping into and out of half-cab noseslides. Furthermore, the dominance of the beanie and beard conveys an extremely apt “guru” aesthetic. The first 3/5ths of the part takes place in Southern California, including a sojourn to that super secret Geoff Rowley spot and a six-trick schoolyard line of which Brian Lotti would be proud. Ladd then transitions Boston, including a sure-to-be-controversial combo that uses the #forbidden14. He concludes with a barrage of NBDs at Eggs that rival anything in his oeuvre.
So at the end of the day we have a more stylized, 2017-web-content PJ Ladd video part that, at its core, contains the same DNA of PJLWHL: the mythos of a man staring at blank wall in an underfurnished apartment, contemplating the possibilities of a granite ledge or schoolyard bench, and then venturing out and forging them into reality.