All roads lead back to Love Park in the latest installment of Five Favorite Parts (plus a stopover in London), with a reminder that skateboarders and their tricks are often at their most magic when they work to tell a vivid story of a specific place, in a specific moment in time ♥
Josh Kalis – Alien Workshop: Photosynthesis (2000)
It’s the textbook, I’m not going to front on that.
In Philly, we always say “the team is the dream.” Shout out to my man Q, he coined that. As young bucks, we were there for each other. Watching Josh and seeing how he and his homies did it back then amplified how we felt. We wanted to put our own twist on what we saw of how it was back then.
Photosynthesis started to resonate with me around 16/17, then I started watching it every day. Every song, every section, I’d know them by heart. You get bored, you don’t know what to do – you watch that and it makes you want to go skate again. It’s almost the inspiration for my skating. Not 100%, but there are pieces in there that make me want to go do my thing. As a kid, I’d go to LOVE and be like, “Pappalardo skated that ledge with an ankle brace,” so if I was hurt,and wearing one too, I’d be like, “Fuck it, I’m not in that much pain. This is going to look cool.” Little things like that can make you feel like you’re part of something because those before us did it. Having LOVE was literally like being in a video part, skating their spot.
For skaters coming up in Philly – besides my homies and the kids who came up with us – there are heads, like, two years younger than us who never skated LOVE and they’ll say they’re alright with that because they didn’t suffer the loss we did. But I wouldn’t say they don’t carry that vibe because if you skate Muni; there’s the same family-type bond.
Philly don’t change. It just looks different.
Rodrigo TX – éS Footwear: éSpecial (2007)
I guess on the east coast, it was hard to come by a video like éSpecial unless you were in a skate shop. I only knew about éSpecial because it was handed out at the skate shop on DVD as part of a little catalog. It was one of those jawns I’d toss in my bag and forget about, but eventually I watched it and I clung to this part.
He’s not perfect in the way he does stuff — you see him get caught on cracks mid-line — and that was something I could relate to with skating LOVE and Muni. The ground sounds nice but it’s not perfect, and it takes a lot more to skate the spot than just tricks.
Every trick is power. He does a nollie halfcab nosegrind, jumps over the whole ledge, then places it in. The one for me is the line [at 3rd and Army] where he nollies over the white bar, does a kickflip front nose and then a nollie heel on flat at the end. He beasted that. There are random manuals on curbs, like nollie back heel to switch manny, and that’s weird – especially on an angled little pad. But he popped the shit out of it and landed like halfway into the bank.
The Pupeki grind with the flip out, the switch back smith and then the half cab to manual, backside flip out [at Paral·lel] – those three tricks alone are insane, but the way he did them is just too good. I could watch those back to back, every day.
Dylan Sourbeer – Sabotage 4 (2012)
When I was a kid, we all thought Sourbeer was pro. He was the local hero, but he’d laugh that off if he ever heard it. He gets his bread, takes care of his family and he skates.
He’s an older head. We’d skate at LOVE, and I’d see him around, but it wasn’t like we were getting hit up when they were driving out to a spot. So it was cool to see everything he’d done at LOVE and all through downtown, edited together. Taking that in for the first time made me think, “Damn, this is what it is to film a video part.” It was a masterpiece and, to me, skating became more about putting things together, like, “I want this shit to look like art.”
It was also the first time I thought about wanting to be in full-length video with all my friends. Seeing Sourbeer be who he is – a real person putting out what he put out — made me feel like I could do that. It was the same with Kev because he’s around my age.
Even though Kalis is the textbook, this was the modern day approach to doing it. Somebody’s got to write this man a check and put his name on a board.
Kevin Bilyeu – Sabotage 5 – ‘Till It’s Dirt (2017)
The steez, the tricks. Man, he’s skating a spot that ain’t hardly there anymore. Rest in peace to our home. Kev was doing tech shit at a young age that no one was doing in Philly. All these back tails, the switch frontside flip over the can – it’s crazy. I got to see a lot go down with my own eyes. He was working his ass off for that part.
‘Till It’s Dirt was pretty much the boys skating through the mess, going through the fences. Watching it at the premiere was sad — it was like watching your house get burned down again and again — but at the same time, we were watching our history. We got to feel those moments again but that first time was shocking, amazing, hurtful. It was every feeling you can imagine at once.
That was Kevin’s first part for the world to see. He’s my dog. To see my friend blow up and put out his best work, I was really happy for him. We didn’t really notice each other until we were maybe 14 or 15. We were a bunch of broke-ass kids skating LOVE, the young folks, so we flocked together. We met on The Levels actually, I watched him do a line with a frontside flip up then a switch hardflip back tail and I was like, “How’d you do that shit?”
The switch crook then switch nosegrind fakie flip [at Muni] is the best line in the part. I don’t know why it’s so meaningful to me, but you’ve got City Hall in the back and the clock is glowing.
In a way, Kev skating over the can correlates to Josh Kalis in Photosynthesis. You can feel the vibe and essence of that part when you watch this, in that they’re not just doing tricks, they’re skating their home.
Lucien Clarke – Palace: Palasonic (2017)
[Part begins at 31:00 mark.]
All the people I’ve talked about are pretty similar in a way, because they do really long lines. I love seeing someone push, to see what’s going on around them, to take in the atmosphere and to feel like I’m watching it from behind the person with the camera, instead of through the camera lens. Parts like this, I see myself at the spot watching the homie.
It stands out because he’s skating his home and it isn’t there anymore. He’s putting his all into this spot he loves and I really connect with that, even though I didn’t get to film my best stuff at LOVE when it was on the verge of being over. It reminds me of Kev: going out every day, knowing you’ve got to do your thing, making the best of what you’ve got before it’s gone. Hammering the knobs took me back to being a little kid and watching Penny [Brian Panebianco, Sabotage filmer] take the knobs off at City Hall and LOVE.
Even though it’s probably the most memorable, the Victoria Benches section isn’t even my favorite. When the song switches, it’s so grimy and he starts doing gnarly tricks — that shit’s hard. I like that it’s two songs long, kind of three. It felt like a mixtape.
“This is my city. I’m going to show you how I get down.”
The tre flip down the ten-stair in the orange sweatsuit is sick, I love wearing matching stuff. Then,, the line at Southbank where he does a fakie nosegrind, switch flips on flat, turns around and backside nollies the set over a barrier – it’s not even the line, it’s the turnaround at the back. That shit just resonates cool. When someone picks their pants up, slips on a crack and does a little jump or bops before a v-heel, it’s the little things like that and that shit Lucien did was smooth.
When he’s wearing that leather jacket, it’s like Andrew Reynolds skating the LOVE gap. First of all, wearing a leather jacket is heavy as fuck, but if you’re filming lines? Damn.
Nollie noseblunt at Southbank, I look at that all the time back in Philly, because I’ve got the book, and that sequence is fucking ill. The graffiti and everything, it’s timeless. I watch that shit everyday.
Honorable Mention: Kevin Taylor – Aesthetics: Ryde or Die Vol. 1 (2003)
KT’s the god, that man raised me. His Aesthetics part is heavy and that was one of the first times I saw a Black skater jumping on rails. As a kid, he used to dress up as Santa Claus and come to Philly with Axion. He’d give out shoes to everybody, give us boards, help us out, give advice. He took me to my first hip-hop night too. I had to shout out KT as a person and one of the greatest skateboarders of all time.
Previously: Una Farrar, Chris Jones, Mason Silva, Beatrice Domond, Mark Suciu, Justin Henry, Jarne Verbruggen, Breana Geering, Sage Elsesser, Bobby Worrest, Nik Stain, Anthony Van Engelen, Dom Henry, Bing Liu, Andrew Reynolds, Cyrus Bennett, Jacob Harris, Jamal Smith, Paul Rodriguez, Gilbert Crockett, Ben Chadourne, Tom Knox, Louie Lopez, The Chrome Ball Incident, The Bunt, Lacey Baker, Andrew Allen, GX1000, Brian Anderson, Gino Iannucci, Josh Kalis, Sean Pablo, Wade Desarmo, Chris Milic, Chad Muska, Hjalte Halberg, Danny Brady, Bill Strobeck, Aaron Herrington, Jerry Hsu, Brad Cromer, Brandon Westgate, Jim Greco, Jake Johnson, Scott Johnston, Josh Stewart, Eric Koston, Karl Watson, Josh Friedberg, John Cardiel, Pontus Alv, Alex Olson, Jahmal Williams