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”?

In my opinion, truck involvement is required. I guess now that blunt slides and nose slides are done on things super high that maybe the younger lads call ’em “slappy” just because you ride or ram into the curb. Since I’m older and was around when these tricks came to be, we never considered them part of the Slappy family. No big deal though… just stoked people wanna rip curbs still.

Is there a height limit on the slappy? When you’ve got guys slapping up knee high hubbas and grinding down them, does it cease to be a slappy? (Remember Sarge slapping the big block at EMB back in the day)?

I think so. Otherwise it’s just kind of a wall ride into a grind. You gotta get that magical levitational, unspeakable motion that makes it…you know…SLAP.

Frontside or backside?

Love them both but I gotta go with the FRONTAL

When are your trucks best for slappies? Brand new? Ground with a nice groove but still a lot of metal on the hanger? Or down to the axle and beaten all too hell?

I like them worn in. They don’t have to be down to the axle but since I ride Indy’s, once they wear in just a little then the weight of the truck changes and the bushings are nice and worn in. To me, that’s when it feels best.

What gets you more stoked: A nice, immaculately smooth and styled out slappy on a nice buttery curb, or powering through a squared, crusty, dry curb?

Hmmm…two totally different feelings/tastes really. “Will I try the pulled pork sammie today or will I go with the ribs?” I like crust and I like glide.

Favorite slappy variation?

Frontside slap/smith power slide where your front wheels are power sliding on the asphalt. You have to haul ass to do this, So much fun.

Toughest variation you can do?

Frontside slap to b/s 180 revert

Craziest slappy you’ve ever seen?

Natas. Santa Monica curbs. F/S slappy into lipslide to smith grind. Seeing Tom Knox also was inspiring.

What are some slappy style mistakes?

Pink Jimmy’z pants. Hip Pouch. Vision Street Wear Berets.

Did you have a slappy sensei? Someone who inspired or even taught you?

(Former Alva pro) Marc Hostetter from Vista was the first person I ever saw do a Slappy, plus I saw him do a ton of other shit.

What’s the worst you’ve ever got wrecked on a slappy?

You can actually get pretty damn folded on slappies, especially when the curbs are over waxed... Say you're going for a lengthy, speedy slappy 50/50, and your back wheels over-slap and start to ride on the curb, then you slip and over rotate on the wax... your body will start to roll and contort & so forth...
What kind of set-up do you prefer for curb skating? Shaped board? If so What kid of shape? Dimensions? truck width, wheel size and shape, etc.?

For the last few years I've been on a pretty basic popsicle shape, but with a fuller nose and tail; Anywhere from 8.25" - 8.6". I had a shape on Assault that was more square nose & tail but my new shape kinda mixes new and old. It has got a Mix of rounded nose and rounded tail, yet still has some flat in between and a little side-cut action. It feels really good. I ride 149 Indys & 55mm Spitfires.

What makes a good curb?

A curb that isn't too"vert", one that has a slight angle. Not too high or short. Not too slippery.

Wax: when is it appropriate?

If you wanna glide. Just please don’t overdo it kids.

Do you still like to look at the grind marks on your hangers after a session?

Oh yea.

Do you ever rip a good one and have to look at your hanger right there at the session?

Oh hell yes.

Do you catch yourself scoping out curbs when you are just running errands...hanging out with your family, etc...?

All the damn time. Actually today my wife and I were driving back from a short trip. She fell asleep and I decided to drive over to this school I found by my house and check out the curbs. We pulled into the lot, she woke up and then there was a cop parked there. I will return. Yeah, I’m always taking pictures of curbs and checking out spots.

Have you ever gone to a skate park and then found yourself having a slappy session on some curb in the parking lot?

Oh yeah.

Why are slappies so rad?

I really think that it is one of the great tricks of skateboarding. It isn’t age specific either. I can see myself slapping curbs when I’m 65. I guess we will see about that. Thanks to Assault Skateboards for letting me design some shapes and putting my name on them. I love skateboarding.

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