All Hail Jean-Baptiste

jb french fred

Photo by French Fred via Live

Something that wasn’t shined on enough in yesterday’s post was that the Kingpin “Greatest Plazas” list also included a new “Best Of Hotel De Ville” edit from J.B. Gillet. Anyone who grew up burning holes through the Rodney v.s. Daewon videos has probably spent the past fifteen years dreaming of skating that endless two-level ledge plaza with a hip in the middle. Research reveals that it is far too run down today to resemble what it did in the nineties (more on that later), but it still has to rank as one of the coolest-looking spots ever to grow famous through skate videos.

J.B. was the original cool French skater before Lucas Puig became a fashion-foward adult. Always thought of him as a French Kalis — great hip-hop white guy style, chill switch mongo push, amazing flip tricks, all the right ledge tricks, and an ability to be associated with one particular plaza throughout the duration of his career (yeah, Kalis might be associated with two at this point.)

Any remnant of associating a sizable portion of one guy’s footage with a single spot is in Europe. Even then, a lot of the “A-list” guys just seem like they travel around a lot e.g. there’s no real “Lucas spot” to the extent that there is a “J.B. spot.” For us Americans, the “single spot part” in 2014 is a rarity and pretty much impossible unless you’re Bobby Worrest turning in the year’s best. (Sorta interesting to know if Europeans who have never visited the States / don’t routinely get chased by cops for skating a ledge *got* how wild the “Hometown Turf Killer” part was.)

“I spent about, uh, 15 million hours here.”

The above was from 2011. French Fred, via Live in 2013: “So, HDV, as the young generation calls it now, is a sad state… To a point where it just gets worst every over week. For the locals that are used to it, it’s usable, but for people visiting Lyon, it’s a great disillusion. They freak out, and find it just unskatable. From the beginning, you had those lateral grooves that are part of the design, and that already was never easy to adapt to, but add hundreds of cracks all over, and it’s a mine field! Then again, Mark Suciu came, observed, then skated, and according to Flo Mirtain, did the craziest line ever done there, so everything is still possible! For the latest Go Skateboarding Day, Jérémie Daclin put some metal angles on the ledges that were in Beirut mode, totally unusable, and that gave a little boost to the spot.”

Mark Suciu seems like a horrible barometer by which to judge the average person’s ability to skate the spot. It’s probably best to scratch skating H.D.V. off the bucket list. The Lyon scene still seems like it’s going well though, no matter how dilapidated the “dream spot” may have gotten.

Previously: The Quietly Incredible Year For Euro Skaters Over 30

3 Comments

  1. Yeah. Most people missing on that one. Great selection recalling his 411VM 44 part, edited to Lunatic. Same era tracks too.


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