Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Slapchat: Special Curb Stall Edition, With Kristian Svitak

The ever popular, Truck-Grab Butt Stall

When I hit up Kristian Svitak to do a Slapchat, I figured it would be the the journalistic equivalent of a slappy on a red painted roundy. Svitak’s from the midwest, he came up at the end of the 80’s, hell, he was a teammate of John Lucero and Jason Adams for years. I just sort of assumed that this Ohio-reared shredder would have a deep devotion to the sacred slappy. 

Never take anything for granted kids, especially in skateboarding. When I called him up on the road with my standard list of questions, I got a minor shock.

“I’ve never really had a slappy phase,” Svitak explained. “I enjoy doing them...but this whole slappy thing, my buddies are always trying to get me to do slappies. ‘Hey let’s go do slappies!’ Yeah, that sounds fun, but, nothing against the slappy, but when I think about the limited time I have to skate, I want to do all sorts of things. I’ve got skateboarding ADD, I only have so many slappies, and then it’s like: ‘Is there a set of stairs around here?’”

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Ace Of Curbs

Depending on your point of view, skaters like Ace Pelka are either saving curb skating, or ruining it forever. On one hand, watching this 18 year old shredder rip a curb is a lesson in stoke. On the other, seeing him pop a variation like a slappy to ollie impossible out is enough to make any veteran curb skater question whether a good, solid, frontside slappy is enough anymore.

“I totally don’t mean to turn slappies into a tech thing,” Pelka says, defending himself. “I just like impossibles, they’re my favorite flat ground trick. I was super-pumped to do a slappy and impossible out. I tried it and it worked out.”

Of course, this does nothing to excuse him for the slappy kickflips, or all the other variations he has completely dialed. Pelka is a monster. But if he’s a monster, then he’s a monster of our own creation.

Monday, May 11, 2015

SLAPCHAT With Mario Rubalcaba

The slappy: it's oh so much more than a skateboard trick. Its an attitude, a way of life, a philosophy. Every once in a while we get a chance to ask a bona fide master of the Dao of Slap a set of questions that go to the heart of the art and cut to the very meaning of the slappy.

Our first slappy sensei is Mario Rubalcaba. Mario has been terrorizing curbs and brutalizing drums for decades. He was a pro for the legendary Alva team in the late 80’s and early 90’s, a role model for the curb generation, and the beat behind too many bands to recount, including 411, Off, Rocket From the Crypt, Earthless, and Hot Snakes. He still drums, he still rips and he’s still putting out decks with Assault skateboards. Those who pursue the way of the slap should all familiarize themselves with the work of this San Diego Curb Crusher. Here’s Mario’s perspective on the sacred slappy.

First off, what counts as a slappy? Do you have to get your trucks involved? Some folks consider a noseslide on a curb where you don’t lift your tail a “slappy noseslide” or a slapped in blunt sllide a “slappy blunt”?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What you should be talking about when you're talking about "Old School"

The term "old school"gets thrown about a lot nowadays. Old school tricks. Old school boards. Old school style... It's a term that's crossed the rubicon of cliche and gone straight on to meaningless. So much water has flowed under the bridge, "old school" is now a term that equally applies to a backside boneless or a front foot impossible. The term "old school" is so relative its easy to clown yourself using it casually. So your $100 Powell Caballero dragon re-issue is an "old-school" deck? Let me introduce you to my bro over there whose first plank was a Bahne Fibreflex back in '78.

Refer to decks, tricks, styles, music as "old school" and  I'll probably tune you out, but there are some legitimately "old school" concepts that we should all be talking about much more. These are things more relevant than pointed noses and no-complies. You want to talk about :"old school" let's talk about about old school skate culture, and I'm not talking about Jim Phillips graphics, flipping the bill up on your Suicidal Tendencies hat, or paint penning a bad approximation of the Rat Bones logo on your griptape, either. The term "old school" ought to be trotted out only in instances where it can really matter, instances where it refers to values and practices that are getting lost in times when skateboarding is more accessible and more codified.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Talking Slappies With Jason Adams

The Kid at the Transportation Unit red curb invitational. 1st place. Time to start thinking about Street League

No trick can inspire cliched assertions like the humble, yet mighty slappy. In the deceptively simple act of throwing a grind on a curb without popping an ollie, some can find the essence of skateboarding. From there, the cliches just seem to pour out: It’s more than a trick, it’s an attitude...a lifestyle...a cult...insert your own philosophical sentiment here.

Among the greatest practitioners of the way of the slap is San Jose’s own Jason “The Kid” Adams. He’s perpetrated slappies in the darkest days of the flipped out 90’s, he’s thrown them down in video parts when no one else has dared, and, as decades of pro skating have taken its toll on his mind and body, it’s the slappy that keeps Adams stoked. I spoke with this slappy guru about the mechanics, magic and mystique of the slappy. We soon found ourselves probing deep into the Dao of slap in a way only two curb-crunching fanatics could:

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Jimmy Wallace's Driveway (Part 1)

(Mine had neon green zigzags)

“Wait! I’m locked up again.”

Monty’s bike skidded to a halt in the gravel at the end of the driveway. He glanced back at me from the seat of his hot pink GT, a familiar look of exasperation on his face.  “The WD-40 is on the workbench. Hurry up. Jimmy Wallace built a ramp in his driveway.”

I ran into the garage and fetched the can. It was time to roll the boulder up the hill one more time...whatever leaning, ramshackle wedge of lumber remnants Jimmy Wallace had crammed together in his driveway would have to wait.

By summer 1988 I had been skating the same $50 Variflex for three years. At that point, the application of lubricant to bearings was more of a neurotic tic than any sort of real remedy for my board’s eternal lock-ups. The scrap metal spheres rattling around the grooves of my cheap wheels had degraded to the point that they could be considered a real locomotive force only by the broadest and most forgiving mechanical definitions. Nothing ever stopped the seize-ups, especially not wd-40, and deep down I knew it, but I would stick that little red straw in to the wheel and spray away anyway, the cut-rate lubricant pooling so deep that I could have lifted up my wheel and knocked back the ounces of WD 40 like Jack Daniels from a neon shot glass.

Sometimes the WD-40 helped a little. Sometimes